A judge has denounced vigilantism while sparing a young home invader time behind bars over a robbery in which a plate was smashed over the victim's head.
"People must not take the law into their own hands," Justice Michael Elkaim said in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday.
"Vigilantism can be as criminal as the conduct it seeks to address."
Justice Elkaim made these comments while sentencing Dylan Crick to a 15-month jail term, which the 24-year-old will serve in the community on an intensive correction order.
Crick pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, following a violent incident in suburban Belconnen last July.
Justice Elkaim said the young father had been socialising with a group of people at the Wanderlust Gentleman's Club in Mitchell when the conversation turned to a man who lived in Spence.
The group believed this man had committed serious crimes against some of its members, and thought his phone contained evidence.
They decided to drive to the man's home, forcing their way in and pushing his mother and pregnant sister aside when they arrived.
"They found [the man] in a bedroom, where they assaulted him," Justice Elkaim said.
"This included smashing a plate over his head.
"The group left with two mobile phones, which they later destroyed.
"[Crick]'s role in the events of the evening ... included apparently punching [the man] twice in the head, standing over [the man] and demanding his telephone. He later took hold of two telephones."
Justice Elkaim said Crick, a scaffolder, had until now only a single drink-driving offence on his criminal record.
He indicated that the 24-year-old had expressed remorse for the home invasion both in court and to a psychologist.
But the judge said Crick had "minimised his involvement" when talking to pre-sentence report authors, "saying he had not assaulted [the victim] and the enterprise was not his idea".
Justice Elkaim said Crick lacked sympathy for the victim, which was "to some extent understandable" if the man had indeed done what he was suspected of.
"While to some extent understandable, [Crick's] actions are not excused," the judge said.
"The overall picture presented by a group of persons bursting into a home and assaulting its inhabitants describes an event of objective seriousness.
"There are some mitigating features, in particular the likely criminal conduct of [the victim] which generated the escapade.
"Although, as I've already said, this does not excuse the actions, I think it reduces the objective seriousness."
Justice Elkaim said he ultimately agreed with prosecutor Katrina Marson and Crick's barrister, Katrina Musgrove, that a community-based jail sentence was the appropriate penalty.
He imposed the 15-month intensive correction order, taking into account that Crick spent four days in custody following his arrest.
The cases of Crick's co-offenders have reached various stages, with some still before the courts.
Those already dealt with have been sentenced to suspended jail terms or good behaviour orders, and in one case both.
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