Man missed 'comfort' of jail

LIFE outside of prison proved to be too much for a 26-year-old man who had spent most of his adult life behind bars.

On the day he was released in late 2010, Ricky Lee Van Zweiten committed a crime while in full view of a security camera at Woolworths in Stockland Rockhampton.

Van Zweiten used goods in the store to set fire to paper towelling on a shelf.

The convicted armed robber and serial property thief pleaded guilty in Rockhampton District Court last week to setting fire to property.

The barrister representing Van Zweiten, Tom Polley, said after seven years in the "comfort" of his prison home, Van Zweiten found himself on the street.

"(He was) institutionalised and feeling out of depth in the community when he was released," Mr Polley said.

He said his client was initially imprisoned because he felt pressured to "stay flash" with his peers in the gay community.

Crown prosecutor Julie Marsden said Van Zweiten's action were reckless and potentially dangerous.

She said he put 60 staff and customers in danger, along with destroying $3283 worth of stock.

"The danger to the property was huge," Ms Marsden said.

Judge Sarah Bradley told Van Zweiten: "Your behaviour on that day was really quite bizarre."

Mr Polley told her his client had now admitted all of his crimes to his family, instead of his past denial of them, and had their support.

He said Van Zweiten had been working in the prison workshop and had finished his first semester of a Bachelor of Business.

Judge Bradley said Van Zweiten had expressed remorse and insight.

She sentenced him to two years imprisonment.

Van Zweiten is eligible for parole on November 28.



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