A WOULD-BE thief who tried to take a mobile phone from a man's jacket pocket while he dined has been sentenced to prison for two and a half years.
Richard David Hill, 22, pleaded guilty in the Bundaberg District Court yesterday to robbery with violence.
Prosecutor Amelia Loode said Hill entered the Melbourne Hotel about 6.15pm on June 16, 2010 and approached the victim, asking for food.
She said the man told Hill the bar would have chips or peanuts and continued to eat his meal.
But Hill remained in the dining area watching the man.
"The defendant came and stood very close to the complainant, who was eating," she said.
Ms Loode said it was State of Origin night, so the patrons of the hotel were all watching the television.
"The defendant suddenly reached into the left shirt pocket (of the victim) and attempted to remove the mobile phone," she said.
Ms Loode said when the victim grabbed his arm, Hill punched him to the head.
The court was told the victim restrained his attacker until the manager came and removed Hill from the hotel.
Ms Loode said the offender was recognised by police when they viewed CCTV footage of the incident.
Defence barrister John McInnes said Hill had a problem with alcohol, which he had had taken steps to rectify while he was in prison.
"The video shows that he picked the wrong person," he said.
"I don't know whether that is going to form part of the lesson for him."
The court heard Hill committed the offence just a month and a half after he had been released from jail. He is also serving a jail term for another offence.
Judge John Robertson sentenced Hill to two and a half years in prison for the robbery, with a parole release date of October 4.
The judge warned Hill if he did not change his habits, he may spend a large portion of his life in prison.
"You don't seem to have any regard for the law or the rights of other people," he said.
Hill has already served nine months in pre-sentence custody for the robbery, and will serve the remainder of his term concurrently with the other prison sentence he is now serving.
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