By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A drug-fuelled man who threatened to kill during a violent armed robbery has described the influence of synthetic cannabis as like “100 bongs in one”.
Zyal Nhial, 28, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to attempted armed robbery, trespass and assault in which he wielded a knife and attacked his victim in the victim’s home.
Nhial approached the victim outside in Fox Street Dandenong about 11pm on 10 November 2018.
The accused held a long knife and an opened bag, saying: “Give me everything or I’ll kill you.”
The victim, yelling for his friend to call triple-0, fled inside his home. Nhial followed him and in a struggle, both fell down a flight of stairs.
During the attack, Nhial kneed the man in the face.
Police arrived and chased Nhial on foot down Fox Street, McCrae Street and the Dandenong Creek trail. Nhail crossed the creek and collapsed on the St Mary’s Primary School oval where he was arrested.
At the time, police deemed an “erratic” and “delusional” Nhial as unfit for interview.
In sentencing on 25 March, Judge Trevor Wraight noted Nhial “aggressively consumed” synthetic cannabis beforehand.
The “100 bongs in one” hit of synthetic cannabis significantly contributed to his offending, Mr Wraight found.
Nhial was likely suffering PTSD from a traumatic childhood in war-torn Sudan and refugeehood in Egypt. He’d started psychiatric treatment only two weeks before his arrest.
Judge Wraight didn’t accept Nhial’s mental illness reduced his moral culpability.
“People are entitled to feel safe and walk down their streets without being attacked and threatened in the way you did on this occasion.”
At 11, Nhial arrived in Australia, then studied at St John’s Catholic College in Dandenong and consistently found labouring and warehousing work.
He’d also volunteered to support teenagers in gangs across Melbourne, and cared for his brother who suffered a serious brain injury in a car crash.
Nhial had prior convictions for driving and dishonesty offences, but none for violent crime. He hadn’t been in jail before.
Meanwhile, the “significantly traumatised” victim nursed a mildly injured knee and bruised face.
Since, he had been hypervigilant, temporarily unable to work and sleep, and fearful of social situations and going out at night, Judge Wraight said.
“It would have been an incredibly frightening experience.”
Mr Wraight noted Nhial’s condition had stabilised with drug abstinence in remand. His rehabilitation prospects were “very good” if his mental health was maintained.
Nhial was sentenced to 501 days in jail – which had already been served in pre-sentence detention.
He was released on a two-year supervised community corrections order with drug and mental health treatment.