Many will cheer the likely inevitable deportation from Australia of Andrew Foster, a violent and dishonest 20-year-old who has committed many terrifying armed robberies and other crimes in Victoria.
Within months of arriving with his parents from England aged 14, Foster went "out of control" and became substance addicted, which has underlined his crimes, and was diagnosed with ADHD and a low IQ.
A psychologist assessed him as a immature, antisocial and a "defiant oppositional" and a low-functioning individual prone to "very poor judgment". David Ball also wrote that Foster was aggressive in acting out, had rapidly relapsed into substance abuse, was impulsive, failed to learn from mistakes and lacked insight into his offending or the capacity to plan and execute positive and self-sustaining behaviour.
When Judge John Smallwood of the County Court on Tuesday dealt with Foster, he said there had to be a "significant element of community protection" in his sentencing for three charges of armed robbery, two of attempted armed robbery and one of attempted aggravated burglary to which he had pleaded guilty.
"One does not need a victim impact statement to be aware of the ongoing psychological impact of such offences," Judge Smallwood said in summarising how a knife-wielding Foster – who had been released on parole a month before the first offence on June 5 last year – targeted service stations and staff in early morning attacks.
Foster was also one of five co-offenders recently sentenced by another County Court judge over a riot in prison that caused $300,000 damage and injured three prison officers in 2012.
Judge Frank Gucciardo had heard that Foster's four codefendants had been kept under a "management regime" since the riot that involved 22-hour cell lockdowns.
When he sentenced them, Judge Gucciardo attacked the use of long-term, virtually solitary confinement for young people in the Victorian prison system as "serving no worthy purpose except to punish and degrade". He said that over time a lockdown "management" regime "borders on the cruel and the inhumane".
Judge Gucciardo also said violent attacks on men and women carrying out their duty were unacceptable and, whatever the prisoners' frustrations or demands, no problem was resolved by "mob intimidation and violence". He noted each man was on remand at the time for criminal offences for which they were responsible.
Foster has been kept under "management" lockdown since the day of his sentencing by Judge Gucciardo after an altercation erupted between the men as they were about to be led into court.
Judge Smallwood said on Tuesday he was "extremely concerned" about Foster, who has been free only about four months in the past two years, being institutionalised, and noted he was now estranged from his family and had no visitors. It was likely he would be deported, but said he could not take that into account in sentencing.
Judge Smallwood regarded his prospects for rehabilitation as "guarded" and the risk of reoffending as "high", but said he was most concerned about Foster's lack of insight. He also had been told that for the foreseeable future Foster would be kept in lockdown, which meant he would not be able to access courses, learn a trade or work because he was forbidden to hold tools.
While Judge Smallwood said he had "no desire to be involved in the management of a jail", he referred to Judge Gucciardo's sentencing remarks that to have people of Foster's age incarcerated in such a way was an "extremely unfortunate circumstance". But he told Foster that such an outcome "cannot mean and does not mean that you receive a ridiculously lenient sentence".
Judge Smallwood jailed Foster for six and a half years with a minimum of four years and three months, less 180 days served by way of presentence detention, and expressed doubt that he would ever be paroled.
Before Foster was led away, Judge Smallwood said that "I trust a proper effort be made for this young person ... to be given some chance in the world". After the judge left the bench, someone advised him behave, to which he responded – given that he now was held in virtually isolation – that "I got no choice now".