AFTER serving more than eight years for armed robbery, Ricky Kinchela was released from jail in January last year a recently diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with no community mental health intervention or supervision.
Within three months he would be back behind bars after a massive crime spree that spanned thousands of kilometres, included five armed robberies, four police pursuits, four break and enters, three stabbings and ended on the roof of a Tighes Hill townhouse after a 17-hour siege.
Kinchela, who escaped from Parramatta Jail when he was 19 and was involved in a prison riot at Goulburn Correctional Centre in 2014, had to be handcuffed in the Newcastle District Court dock due to “safety concerns” during a sentence hearing on Friday.
Public Defender Peter Krisenthal said Kinchela, who has spent only three months out of jail since he was 19, had stopped taking his medication two weeks before he was released from jail last year.
Not only did that not ring alarm bells with authorities, but there was an “absence of communication” between Justice Health and Corrective Services, which included there being no contact made with a community mental health team prior to his release.
Also, because he was not granted parole and served the entire sentence, Kinchela was released without any assistance from Probation and Parole.
He was essentially ill-equipped and unprepared to deal with life on the outside.
“It is a failing of the Justice Department that no arrangements were made for this man to be followed up on or to receive his medication,” Mr Krisenthal told Judge Tanya Bright on Friday.
“It is an inescapable inference that this man was actively psychotic from a very short period after his release from custody.”
Within a month of his release, Kinchela’s family noted his bizarre behaviour and sought for him to get mental health treatment.
He was taken to the Mater Hospital's mental health unit but punched a hole in a wall and escaped after two days.
He then embarked on the crime spree that led him to the roof of a Tighes Hill townhouse on March 22.
Judge Bright will sentence Kinchela in October.
As part of her decision, Judge Bright will have to determine whether or not there was a causal connection between Kinchela’s mental illness and his erratic and violent crime spree and how much his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia reduced his moral culpability.
It is a difficult sentencing exercise, with Judge Bright having to weigh the seriousness and sheer volume of offences, against Kinchela’s subjective factors and risk of institutionalisation.