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‘Give the money or I’ll put fire on you’: Father jailed over violent chemist hold-up

A former disability services worker who splashed petrol on a pharmacist and threatened to burn him during a run of armed robberies has been jailed for seven years.

Kepa Kemp dedicated much of his adult life to helping disadvantaged and vulnerable people at McKillop Family Services, Scope and Yooralla disability organisations and was committed to raising his own children given their mothers had serious mental-health problems.

But by late 2016, Kemp was unable to manage his own stress and mental-health problems and began abusing cannabis and ice and was soon guzzling up to five litres of cask wine a day.

Over 18 days in December 2016, he carried out five armed robberies in Melbourne’s western suburbs. He held up convenience stores, a taxi driver and man sitting in his parked car, as well as the pharmacist, the County Court heard this week.

During the third robbery, on Christmas Eve, Kemp took a drink bottle full of petrol and splashed fuel over a 29-year-old pharmacist in Hoppers Crossing, held up a cigarette lighter and said: “Give the money or I’ll put fire on you.”

He stole $300, painkillers and perfume from the pharmacy and the man’s wallet.

Over the other hold-ups, he stole about $3000 cash, and on different occasions used a hammer, a knife, a small axe and a larger axe to threaten his terrified victims.

He spree came to an end when he was arrested 40 minutes after stealing a mobile phone from the man sitting in his parked car.

Judge Trevor Wraight jailed Kemp for seven years, to serve four before he is eligible for parole, after the 41-year-old pleaded guilty to five counts of armed robbery and offending while on bail.

The attack on the pharmacist involved pre-planning, the judge said, and was “particularly disturbing”.

“These are all serious examples of this type of armed robbery on soft targets,” he said.

In the lead-up to the offending, Kemp visited his GP and Wyndham Hospital seeking help for his mental health but none was available.

Judge Wraight said this was regrettable, but it was Kemp who recklessly chose to continue drinking and using drugs.

“As a man of 41 years of age with no relevant prior criminal history, to commit serious offences of armed robbery in the way that you did seems extraordinary,” the judge said on Tuesday.

He acknowledged Kemp was in a “terrible state” in late 2016 but was now remorseful, had shown insight and empathy towards his victims, and wanted to turn his life around.

Kemp, who has already served about 480 days in jail, faces being deported to his native New Zealand once he completes his sentence.

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Source The Age
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