A former Haileybury College student with a masters degree in taxation law at Monash University had been high on the drug ice when he went on a two-week crime spree holding up several Melbourne businesses when armed with a loaded .22 calibre revolver.
Gethara Somasundaram, 38, of Glen Iris, was desperate for money, later telling police he owed almost $500,000 on his home loan, more than $30,000 in credit card debts and had outstanding bills for his phone, electricity and other utilities.
County Court judge Mark Taft said Somasundaram was clearly an intelligent man who had succumbed to his demons.
Somasundaram, who pleaded guilty to four armed robbery charges and one charge each of attempted armed robbery, possession of an unregistered handgun and three theft charges, was jailed for four years and eight months, with a non-parole period of two years and 10 months.
Judge Taft said that between September last year and February this year, Somasundaram had pawned several items at Cash Converters, borrowed significant sums of money from his mother and had spent the $50,000 he received from his father's estate, but still needed cash to pay his mounting bills .
He robbed a milk bar in Mitcham of $150 on January 27, a service station in Mitcham of $400 on January 31, another service station in Mitcham of $400 on February 6, and a 7-Eleven store in Heathmont of $200 on February 10.
During the last robbery Somasundaram was wearing a black face mask and carrying the handgun when he demanded money from the cashier. He began a countdown, 'Five, four, three, two, one' and raised the gun and cocked it.
Somasundaram was arrested six days later.
"You are clearly a most intelligent man but over a number of years, when confronted by interpersonal, work-related and at a later point financial pressures, you found comfort in illicit drugs and alcohol abuse," Judge Taft told Somasundaram.
The judge said Somasundaram had attended Haileybury College from Year 4-12 before beginning a commerce degree at Monash University in 1994 and graduating five years later.
Somasundaram joined a legal firm as a law clerk in 1997 and in 2002 obtained a masters degree in taxation law at Monash University.
He quit his job as a tax advisor in a legal firm in 2005 and went out on his own, consulting in accounting and the law.
It was after his five-year marriage ended in 2008 that Somasundaram started to go off the rails, indulging in 12-hour drinking sessions on weekends and using methamphetamine.
Somasundaram claimed the drug ice helped him to function at work and he could stay awake for up to five to six days.
Judge Taft said Somasundaram told his psychologist that he committed the robberies because he could not pay his bills.
"You acknowledged that your use of methamphetamine had contributed to a disorganised lifestyle and to your considerable financial troubles," the judge said.
Somasundaram had to be jailed because he had chosen soft and vulnerable targets for his crimes.
"One can only imagine the terror that the victims of your offending have faced," he said.