Bandit's 'brazen' robbery of innocent shopper at knifepoint

HOLDING a knife against his victim's cheek, James Craigen robbed an innocent shopper in broad daylight as he walked from the shops to his car.

The violent robbery took place in a shopping centre car park at North Ipswich.

Craigen threatened and assaulted a second man who ran to the aid of the first victim.

The Crown case before Ipswich District Court revealed 36-year-old Craigen to be a troubled man with mental health issues, who committed offences after taking himself off his medication and taking drugs or alcohol.

It led to his growing history of serious offending.

James Angus Craigen pleaded guilty to robbery with violence when armed at North Ipswich on May 5, 2018; threatening violence with a knife; and assault.

Crown legal officer Jessica Beckman outlined Craigen's convictions and prior sentences for burglaries, robberies, and assaults.

In an eerily similar offence, Ms Beckman said Craigen held a knife to the throat of a man before stealing his car.

Judges sentencing Craigen for his previous offences had also been given medical material outlining his mental health issues, and treatment for schizophrenia.

In the North Ipswich robbery, Ms Beckman said Craigen, armed with a serrated-edge kitchen knife, walked up to a man in the car park and demanded his wallet.

He held the knife against the man's cheek and pushed him to the ground.

When the second man yelled out at him, Craigen told him he had already pulled a knife on someone, saying: "Come any closer and I'll stab you".

The man tried to take a photo of him but Craigen made a grab for it, saying: "I will hurt you", before punching him in the forehead.

Ms Beckman said Craigen was arrested and had been held in jail 286 days.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC said his level of violence would have been terrifying for the victim.

Defence barrister Scott Neaves said the task of sentencing Craigen was particularly challenging.

"In the report he refuses to see the prison psychiatrist saying he is fearful he will be physically attacked on the way, or while waiting at the prison health unit," said Mr Neaves.

Judge Horneman-Wren said it was a brazen armed robbery committed against a young man. Judge Horneman-Wren said while Craigen committed the robbery alone, others had been nearby who "hid out in JB Hi-Fi, no doubt to have a share of the booty".

Craigen was sentenced to four-and-a-half years and to two separate six-month jail terms which will run concurrently. He will be eligible for parole from September 4.



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