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'Hanging around the hookers again'

A man who brazenly snatched a bank bag to help pay off a drug dealer blames ‘‘hanging around the hookers again’’ for his most recent mistakes.

Aaron Campbell, 26, has pleaded guilty to the theft of an ANZ bank bag filled with $4000 from a woman walking down the road in Fyshwick in January last year.

Campbell, who was on a good behaviour order for earlier offences at the time, gave evidence in the witness box during a sentencing hearing on Thursday.

He was reminded that he had previously pledged to keep away from drugs, and was asked ‘‘what went wrong?’’.

Campbell told the court he had started hanging around with prostitutes again, many of whom were good friends, and did odd jobs for them for cash.

He said they regularly offered him drugs for free, and that he had been using for about 12 weeks before the theft.

When Supreme Court Justice Richard Refshauge asked whether another job might be more suitable, Campbell answered: ‘‘Every time I get a job, Mr Refshauge, they get intimidated by me, not that I use intimidating tricks or nothing.’’

He said he took the bank bag to help a friend, who had told him she owed money to a drug dealer several days earlier.

It is not clear whether that debt related to drugs or a car, the court heard.

He said he was ‘‘tight’’ with his own money, was able to save, and hadn’t needed the cash himself.

Campbell said he had spotted the woman, tip-toed up to her from behind, snatched the bag, and then ran, the court heard.

The woman was not harmed physically in any way, but Campbell said he turned around seconds later and saw her screaming and upset.

He told the court he felt for the woman, saying she was his mother’s age and probably had children.

‘‘It was pretty f----- up at the time - sorry for swearing Mr Refshauge,’’ he said.

He has already spent nearly 14 months in custody, and told the court he wanted to move to Tasmania for a fresh start with his ex-girlfriend.

He said he needed to move away from Canberra to get away from negative influences.

‘‘I really don’t want to go down that path again, look where I am now,’’ he told the court.

Justice Refshauge said he worried Tasmania might not be the nirvana it sounded like.

He told Campbell his poor literacy skills were a ‘‘killer’’ for him, but the court heard the defendant had made considerable efforts to develop his reading skills while inside the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

The prosecution has argued that a suspended sentence of 18 months jail, in place for earlier offences, should be activated.

Justice Refshauge is expected to hand down his sentence on Tuesday.

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