DESPERATE for money to pay back a drug debt, Ryan James Webb disguised himself with a black hoodie and entered the United Petroleum Yeppoon armed with a hunting knife.

But his disguise wasn’t enough to stop service station manager Uday Akula from recognising Webb as a regular customer.

Yesterday, Webb, 22, pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to one count of armed robbery.

Mr Akula was nearing the end of his shift on Saturday, November 22, when Webb entered the store and demanded money.

The court heard Mr Akula asked Webb if he was serious about the robbery when he recognised his voice.

Webb replied he just needed the money and eventually left the store with $245 cash from the till.

Crown prosecutor Megan Jones said police interviewed Webb about the incident on November 23, where he told them he had burned the clothes he was wearing that night.

She said Webb was over a month into a probation order when he held up the service station.

Defence barrister Ross LoMonaco said while there was some pre-planning for the offence, there had been a “low level of sophistication”.

Mr LoMonaco said Webb was “living on the streets” as a teenager, which led to him becoming involved in drugs and break and enter offences.

He said Webb needed the money from the robbery to repay a drug debt and did not become aggressive or abusive when Mr Akula recognised him.

Chief Judge Kerry O’Brien said people working in small stores and service stations were in a particularly vulnerable position.

He said Webb needed to stop using drugs or face spending “more and more of your life in prison”.

Webb was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and will be eligible for parole on December 18.

Extracted in full from Townsville Morning Bulletin.