9 February 2023

UPDATED: 'Muscle' in drug debt robbery spared extra time in jail when sentenced

| Albert McKnight
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Man with neck tattoos wearing a cap

Jake John Trewartha, 35, had already spent about one year in custody before he was sentenced. Photo: Facebook.

UPDATED 9 February, 1 pm: A baseball bat-wielding man who was the “muscle” for a drug-debt-related robbery has been allowed to leave jail with time served.

Jake John Trewartha was convicted and sentenced to two years and three months’ jail, but it was suspended from February 2023 after he had already spent almost one year behind bars.

In sentencing remarks by Justice Belinda Baker, she said his role in the robbery had been as the “muscle” and he had smoked methylamphetamine the night before the incident.

He wrote a letter to the court, claiming that in the lead-up to the robbery his ex-best friend had stolen from him and threatened him and his family.

“The betrayal led to an emotional breakdown which in turn led him to drugs,” Justice Baker said.

“He said that he was ashamed of himself and that he did not ‘want this to ever happen again’.”

Trewartha must comply with a good behaviour order until May 2024.

31 January: A baseball bat-wielding robber who beat a man over an apparent drug debt has already spent about one year in custody ahead of his sentencing.

Jake John Trewartha pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery about a month before he was to face a trial, then appeared in the ACT Supreme Court for a sentence hearing on Tuesday (31 January).

According to court documents for his case, in August 2021, his co-offender Omar Haddara messaged their victim to say: “It’s Omar here. Debt has been passed to me. You have until tonight to pay what you owe.”

Later, Haddara also told him: “You’re a weak dog and your debt has just doubled and you’re getting flogged when I see you.”

Meanwhile, a co-accused called the victim and said he owed him $600 for cocaine.

Haddara told a woman called Jennifer Hanson about the debt, and she lured the victim to her home in Moncrieff on 26 August 2021 under the promise of drinks.

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Haddara, Trewartha, the co-accused and an unidentified man then entered as well, with the latter three wielding the baseball bat, a knife and a machete.

The victim tried to leave through the back door, but the men pulled him back, held him on the couch and one told him, “Do you know why we’re here? We need the money”.

He thought they wouldn’t hurt him if he transferred them money, but after making a couple of transfers, Trewartha and the unidentified man started hitting him.

Haddara pushed Trewartha when the latter tried to hit their victim with his baseball bat, resulting in the weapon scraping the victim’s head and arms.

The victim ultimately transferred over $3300 to the co-accused before Trewartha assaulted him again and said, “let’s just put him in the boot”, but Haddara made them stop.

Trewartha’s barrister, Duncan Berents, argued that while his client was armed during the robbery, “he didn’t use it in any effective way,” and the injuries the victim received were minimal.

He also said the 35-year-old had struggled with drugs and alcohol in the past.

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Crown prosecutor Morgan Howe accepted his prospects of rehabilitation were reasonable but noted he had lapsed into the lifestyle that led to this offending on multiple occasions.

Trewartha’s criminal history was associated with illicit substance use, he said.

Justice Belinda Baker said she would hand down her sentence on Thursday (2 February).

Hanson has been sentenced to a 16-month intensive corrections order on a charge of being knowingly concerned in the robbery, while Haddara was sentenced to a two-year, seven-month intensive corrections order.

The co-accused has also pleaded guilty but is scheduled to hold a disputed facts hearing.

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