A Burnie court has given a "deeply remorseful" homeless man one last chance to change his ways after he stole $15 worth of fishing gear and punched a Kmart employee last year.
Daniel Francis Ferguson, 30, had previously pleaded guilty to robbery before he was sentenced by acting Justice Shane Marshall in the Burnie Supreme Court on Monday afternoon.
The court heard Ferguson had entered the Devonport Kmart on December 17, where he stole fishing lures and reels.
He later told police it was because he was "homeless and hungry", and hoped to catch some fish. A 53-year-old man employed as a greeter and bag checker noticed Ferguson attempting to leave the store without paying, and tried to stop him, the acting judge said.
Ferguson then punched the employee in the face, knocking him to the ground and his glasses off. The court heard members of the public saw the incident and chased Ferguson as he tried to escape.
Two men caught up with him and pinned him to the ground until police arrived.
The judge said Ferguson had felt "deeply remorseful" about the incident, and had written the employee a letter of apology.
He said the 30-year-old had lived a "troubled life", which included the loss of his two-year-old child who was hit by a vehicle.
"He is unemployed and receives a disability pension. He has cerebral palsy," he said.
READ MORE: Criminal gangs targeted in the North
The judge said his sentencing options were limited.
"Home detention would be inappropriate... a fine would be pointless," he explained.
"Prison would be unlikely to give any benefits, however, it is a serious crime."
Ferguson was sentenced to six months in prison, wholly suspended for 24 months.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.