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Robber jailed three years later

Date

Michael Inman Court Reporter

It took two abandoned trials, a fitness-to-plea hearing and almost three years before a Canberra man finally received justice for an aggravated robbery committed in 2009.

But perpetrator Sammy Strano will be eligible for parole in February.

Strano pleaded guilty in the ACT Supreme Court to aggravated robbery. The court heard Strano and a co-offender robbed a man of $3800 in March 2009.

The co-offender knew the victim had an amount of cash after a divorce settlement.

He offered to drive the victim to buy cigarettes and picked up Strano on the way.

Strano sat behind the victim and when the car was moving grabbed him from behind, forcing him to hand over the cash. The victim was pushed out of the car soon after.

Strano and his co-offender were arrested the following day and $1740 was recovered by police.

The court heard the recovered funds will be returned to the victim.

Strano initially pleaded not guilty, maintaining the plea for 20 months and through an abandoned trial before finally admitting to the crime on the eve of a second hearing.

The court heard the first trial was aborted over concerns about Strano's mental state. But a subsequent fitness-to-plea hearing found the defendant's odd behaviour had been caused by drug use.

Justice Hilary Penfold noted Strano had a long criminal history, which included traffic and drugs convictions.

Justice Penfold sentenced the 47-year-old to three years and four months jail, backdated to April last year to take into account 286 days already spent in custody, with a non-parole period of 22 months.

The judge warned Strano that a failure to complete a drug program while in custody or follow parole orders could result in him doing the entire sentence full-time.

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