12 January 2024

Robber brought undone by his 'stupidity' sent to Queensland to escape Canberra crime 'bubble'

| Albert McKnight

Mitchell John West, 26, was allowed to be released from custody as long as he goes to Queensland. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A man who helped rob a woman in one home and burgled another has been resentenced and told to go to Queensland after a judge said he was brought undone by his own “stupidity”, including alleged sexist remarks while in drug rehab.

“It’s really important to get you away from the Canberra ‘bubble’, which is normally talked about in politics, but in this case is about crime,” Acting Justice Richard Refshauge told Mitchell John West on Thursday (11 January).

“The stupidity that brought you undone in Canberra Recovery Services is just not on.”

On 30 April 2021, West and another man broke into a house in Throsby, then one of them pointed a knife at the mother of the occupant and demanded her belongings. They stole items before fleeing.

Later that same morning, he and two others went into the garage of a home in Casey and stole items, including a car.

West drove the car away but was soon spotted by police and sped away when they tried to make him stop, leading to a chase.

He eventually got into a second car which also drove away before it crashed into shopping trolleys at a car park. He was arrested soon afterwards.

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West, who had already committed 23 offences as an adult, pleaded guilty to charges that included robbery and burglary by joint commission. He was sentenced to four years’ jail in March 2023, which was suspended for a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order. This required him to go to a drug rehabilitation program.

But Acting Justice Refshauge said he continuously broke the rules in the program so was discharged from it that April, then the order was cancelled and he was returned to custody, requiring him to be resentenced.

Mitchell John West had pleaded guilty to charges that included robbery and burglary by joint commission. Photo: Albert McKnight.

He said during the drug rehabilitation program, West allegedly made sexualised comments to a female staff member at the recovery centre. While he denied this, his version of events didn’t corroborate other statements and staff felt the remarks were “intended as a sexist comment”.

He had also failed to follow the guidelines about smoking, was caught stealing a shirt from a Salvation Army store, tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine, wore inappropriate footwear, used disparaging language and continued to play music at a high volume.

Also last year, he pleaded guilty to a charge of minor theft involving the stealing of an electric scooter, for which he was handed four months’ jail.

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The acting justice said West did write a letter for the court, saying “this is not the life he wants to continue living, if given the opportunity” and “he will no longer be a problem to society”.

West spent a total of 586 days in custody over the current offences before he was brought back to the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday.

Acting Justice Refshauge said he would suspend the remainder of his four-year sentence and sentence him to a good behaviour order (GBO), which would allow him to get away from the anti-social influences in Canberra and move to Queensland where he will have the support of his family.

He confirmed the convictions and resentenced him to a three-year GBO, with conditions including that he move to Queensland as soon as possible and not use drugs. West was released from custody later that morning.

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