By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
We’ve all had moments where we’ve done something a little crazy because we’re hungry.
Indeed, your mind races and all you can think about is how much longer before you can obtain food to eat.
That’s because hunger also makes you impulsive – which explains why when you go shopping on an empty stomach, you blindly pile up your shopping trolley with everything edible in your sight.
Nevertheless, sometimes, while food can be your best friend, it can also become your worst enemy.
Case in point: Last week, a famished teenager allegedly held up a pizza delivery driver at knifepoint on the doorstep of a home in Adelaide before outright stealing a pizza and drink from him.
The 18-year-old resident of the unit was arrested and charged.
How the Hungry Teenager Carried Out the Pizza Robbery
According to South Australia Police, just before 10:30pm on 28 January 2020, patrols were summoned to a unit on Waite Street in northern Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth Downs.
Moments earlier, the pizza delivery driver arrived at the property and was threatened by the hungry tenant at the front door, who was carrying a knife.
The suspect then stole a pizza and a drink.
When police arrived at the scene not long afterwards, they discovered the pinched items inside the property.
After a search, they also found the young man hiding in the bushes in the backyard of the premises.
Pizza Thief Charged; Refused Bail
The 18-year-old was arrested and charged with armed robbery. He was also refused bail.
Luckily, the victim was not physically injured.
Speaking to ABC Radio Adelaide, Senior Constable Matt Brown said officers were assured of the young man’s arrest.
“He was armed with a knife, and the suspect stole the pizza and drink that had been ordered to the premises,’ Senior Constable Matt Brown said.
“As you can guess police were supremely confident of an arrest.”
How Hunger Affects Decision Making and Perception of Risk
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that recklessness and risk-taking skyrocket when we are craving food.
In fact, research from the Max Planck Society, which conducts investigations in the natural sciences, life sciences and humanities, reveals that in the wild, animals have a tendency to hunt more dangerous prey as they become gradually more desperate for food. And interestingly, this behaviour has often been found to translate to humans.
Indeed, their studies show that hungry people are usually willing to take riskier ventures compared to those who felt satisfied in their hunger.
Ultimately, hunger plays a role in decision making and perception of risk where different neural circuits process environmental signals depending on the state of satiation.
In NSW, it is an offence to steal something from someone. Equally, it is also an offence to threaten them or use physical force, at the time of stealing the item.
In NSW, the aforementioned is understood as “robbery”.
There are 5 broad types of robbery offences under the law, namely:
- Robbery or stealing from person, or assault with the intention to rob under section 94 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
- Aggravated robbery under section 95 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
- Robbery with wounding under section 96 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
- Armed robbery or in company under section 97 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
- Armed robbery and wounding under section 98 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
In this article we will outline the law on armed robbery under section 97 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
Armed robbery is when a person takes and carries away property of another without consent, with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property, without any genuine belief that he/she was entitled to the property by law, and where he/she was armed with an offensive weapon or instrument or dangerous weapon at the time.
Section 97 is made up of two made offences, one involving a dangerous weapon (s97(2)) and the other involving an offensive weapon or instrument (s97(1)).
The maximum penalty prescribed for armed robbery with a dangerous weapon under section 97(2) is 25-years imprisonment.
The maximum penalty prescribed for armed robbery with an offensive weapon or instrument is 20-years imprisonment.
Armed robbery usually results in a sentence of full-time jail, unless the court can be convinced there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.
If the court finds there to be ‘exceptional circumstances’, the court can impose a sentence other than full-time jail, including an Intensive Correction Order (ICO).
‘Exceptional circumstances’ can be a combination of young age of the offender, and excellent prospects of rehabilitation.
As for armed robbery offences, when imposing an appropriate sentence, a sentencing Judge will be guided by what is said in the Henry guideline judgement-applicable for robbery type offences.
The Henry guideline judgement is outlined in the case of R v Henry (1999) 46 NSWLR 346, and expresses that generally a sentence for this kind of offence should be in the vicinity of four to five years imprisonment where the case falls in the following common situation:
- Young age of offender with minimal criminal record.
- Use of a weapon.
- Limited amount of planning in the offence.
- Limited amount of actual violence, but real threat thereof.
- Vulnerable victim, for example, where the victim was in a shop behind a counter or taxi driver.
- Small amount was taken.
- Guilty plea was made by the accused.
Some defences to a robbery charge include any one or more of the following situations:
- There was a partial removal of property by the offender, not complete removal.
- The accused held an honest belief that he/she had legal entitlement to the property.
- Mental illness defence.
- Intoxication: where the accused was intoxicated to a level he/she was unable to form the required intention to commit the crime (i.e. to steal).
- Necessity or duress.
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