'Social' ice use escalated, led to 'clumsy' armed robbery

FOUR years ago, 29-year-old Mackay man Jeffrey Francis Muscat was living with his partner and their two young children, working as an operator in the mines.

This week he was sentenced at District Court Mackay for staging an armed robbery at a Caltex store in Paget.

Muscat's defence barrister Bronwyn Hartigan told the court that roughly two years ago, an old friend introduced him to the drug ice.

"It started out as social use... but very quickly it went into a full-blown drug addiction," she said.

"He says that was... because he had the money to spend on ice, earning a considerable amount of money in the mines."

Ms Hartigan told the court that daily ice use affected Muscat's relationship with his partner.

"Ultimately his drug addiction led to (their) separation," she said.

Prosecutor Matthew Hynes said Muscat took his former partner's car without her permission when he held up the Caltex petrol station on June 30.

He filled the car with petrol and took items to the counter. He put his hand in his pocket, motioned that he was concealing a gun, and told the female attendant: "I have a weapon".

Muscat left the scene without paying the $188, and was later charged with armed robbery and unlawfully using a motor vehicle to facilitate the robbery.

Mr Hynes said Muscat did not conceal his identity and was at the time on bail for possession of drugs.

Judge David Searles said the armed robbery was "clumsy," which indicated it wasn't premeditated.

"You are one of so many in our community now who have succumbed to that (ice) scourge," he said.

Judge Searles sentenced Muscat to three years jail, and made him eligible for parole on April 1, 2016, taking into account the 111 days he had already spent in custody.

"I wish you well in your journey, Muscat, to get off that dreadful substance," he said.