A man caught on CCTV robbing a wheelchair-bound pensioner at a Sydney ATM has escaped a jail term.
Jarrod Elphick, 20, of Riverstone, was sentenced on Thursday to an 18-month Community Correction Order including carrying out 150 hours of community service.
In May, he was pictured robbing 42-year-old Julian Stewart of $100, as he withdrew his disability pension, in an ANZ ATM alcove on George Street in the CBD.
The incident, which went viral, outraged the community and has left Mr Stewart afraid to visit an ATM on his own.
Hatch can also exclusively reveal before the sentencing Elphick was re-arrested following an incident involving his mother almost three weeks ago.
Mr Stewart told Hatch he now lives in fear and is not surprised Elphick has already reoffended.
“I think that the justice system is very weak ,” he said. “I don’t think that the justice system takes into account that people with a disability like me need extra protection, because I can’t defend myself, so I need the law to protect me.
“I don’t go to an ATM by myself anymore. I always make sure there is someone with me, I can’t bear to have it happen again. I don’t carry money anymore.
“Every time that I go to an ATM now, I still am frightened. Although I’ve managed to be very positive about the whole thing it did have a very large impact on my life.
“As far as I look at it, I made the mistake. I went in there when they were sitting there.”
As for Elphick’s 150 hours of community service – Mr Stewart hopes it would have to do with helping disabled people.
According to court documents, whilst under strict bail conditions awaiting sentencing, including that he could not leave his bail address without his mother, Elphick fled his mother’s home following an argument over what time he would be served dinner.
He repeatedly banged his head against the wall, creating a small hole in the plaster and yelled “incoherently” towards his mother.
Elphick then headbutted the corner of the hallway in the kitchen twice which caused damage in two separate areas.
Police intercepted Elphick 45 minutes later, half-a-kilometre from the home, and arrested him for breaching bail conditions.
He was taken to Liverpool Police Station where police were unable to interview him due to “erratic” behaviour.
Elphick faced Magistrate Thomas at Liverpool Local Court last Thursday for sentencing after pleading guilty to “destroy or damage property” following the incident on August 25, as well as the “steal from person” charge relating to the ATM robbery.
Elphick is also banned from associating with co-accused Nathan Laidlaw, who is still before the courts and subject to supervision from a Community Corrections Officer for the period of the corrections order.
Elphick was also convicted for the “destroy or damage property” charge but no further penalty was imposed.
A Final Apprehended Violence Order was also made prohibiting him from going within 100 meters of where his mother lives or works for a period of two years. He is also prohibited from assaulting or threatening her.
Despite the psychological scars from the incident Mr Stewart is trying to turn the experience into a positive one.
“I do know that the person who committed this crime is a very young person and I don’t necessarily believe that putting them behind bars is the right thing,” he said.
Mr Stewart firmly believes there was a reason for him being born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy – in that he has a great gift and purpose in life.
“A lot of disabled people think that way and we don’t want people to feel pity for us. We want to be part of society, and a productive part of society and give people a lot of great and positive messages,” Mr Stewart said.
After receiving thousands of dollars in donations he has started the Julian Stewart Foundation and also launched a podcast.
“Right now I’m working with down syndrome people, taking them out during the day.”
“I do a live podcast, about three days a week where we talk about making people’s lives better. It’s just been awesome, the sorts of things I’ve been able to do since all of this happened.
“There was a lot of very kind people that donated money to me, but I didn’t want to take the money for myself. I’ve been able to use some of that money to help disabled people, which is a very special thing.”
He has previously offered to talk to his perpetrators and would even extend his hand out to forgive Elphick but doesn’t believe he has shown any remorse.
“I offered to come and talk with him. I do agree that young people make mistakes. I hope that he can turn his life around,” he added.
“It’s only made me a better person. It’s only made me a better and stronger person. It’s allowed me to meet and show a lot of people just how a bad situation can become a very good one.”