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Launceston teenager avoids jail time for knife threat over $2.50 bag of chips stolen from Invermay IGA store

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Invermay IGA

A teenager who pulled a knife on a shop owner over a $2.50 bag of chips has been spared jail time.

The then-15-year-old, known only as NM, was sentenced this week in the Supreme Court to 100 hours of unpaid community service for the attempted robbery at Invermay IGA in Launceston on February 21, 2024.


The court heard NM was living without family support and stole the chips because they were hungry.

Judge Tamara Jago said the teenager had a bottle of alcohol and a steak knife hidden in their shorts when they entered the store and was approached by the owner after he saw them stashing the chips.

The teenager became angry and pulled out the knife while yelling, swearing and saying “I’ll cut you up” and “I’ll slit your throat”.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania in Hobart. Image / Nina Hamilton

They were arrested by police nearby shortly after, who saw the teen remove the knife from their shorts and throw it to the ground.

Judge Tamara Jago said reports indicated NM had a “very difficult childhood” and was often left unattended and unsupervised, living in difficult circumstances since age 11, experiencing homelessness and without any “real support or guidance” from their family.

Jago said the teen rarely attended school, has had a limited education, used alcohol and cannabis regularly from an early age and sustained a possible brain injury at 14 when they were hit over the head with an iron bar during a fight.


The court heard that around two weeks before the incident, NM had appeared in the Youth Justice Court for dishonesty offences.

“Whilst you have been in detention your behaviour has stabilised and you have made positive progress,” Jago said.

The judge said she was mindful of the time NM had already spent in detention and that it was “sufficient punishment”.

Tasmania’s Ashley Youth Detention Centre. Image / Pulse

“The sentence I impose should be directed at encouraging your rehabilitation,” she said.

“I make a sentencing order under the Youth Justice Act. Without conviction, I order that you perform 100 hours of unpaid community service.”

IGA Invermay will also be compensated an “amount to be assessed”.

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