By 18, Michael Carroll was a couple of years out of school and already the father of two children.
He was drinking, taking drugs and began dabbling in gang culture.
His life from July last year, would then spiral out of control, and he would go from having no criminal record to amassing 16 different convictions in the space of eight months.
After seeing a series of aggravated robberies "on the news", Carroll would eventually tell one of his victims he thought he'd get involved because it would be "fun" and they "wanted to get a name for ourselves".
Appearing for sentencing in the Hamilton District Court today, Carroll's crime spree saw him involved with a group who went on a series of armed robberies and car thefts stretching from Hamilton, hitting Auckland, and continuing to Whangarei.
Judge Emma Smith told him he would now begin his adult life as an inmate of a jail after his "extraordinary series of offending" committed while high on a mix of methamphetamine, cannabis and whiskey.
It began on July 16, 2017 when he received a stolen vehicle and drove it at dangerous speeds while evading police. Arrested and on bail, he proceeded to do the same thing again in January this year before again getting bail.
On February 8, he and his associates stole a Subaru Impreza from a Pt England, Auckland, property and drove it Hamilton before it ran out of petrol.
They walked off before stealing another car, a Mazda Demio, from a Grandview Heights house and drove it to the Caltex service station at Bombay, collecting rocks along the way.
They smashed their way in using the rocks and took cash, cigars and cigarettes before dumping the car in Drury.
The next day, the group stole a Honda Accord from Mt Eden and drove it to Whangarei where it ran out of petrol. They then stole another vehicle and drove to the Onerahi Superette. With two of them armed with screwdrivers, they again stole cigarettes and cash as the staff locked themselves in a cupboard.
Carroll and one of his co-offenders headed down to Hamilton and threw rocks at the doors of the Z Petrol Station on Mill St to try and get inside about 5.20am. The attendant set off the fog cannon scaring them off.
They went up the road to Caltex on Avalon Dr where they demanded cash and cigarettes. The attendant was unable to open the till but the group ripped it out and stole cigarettes. She was also punched in the face during the robbery.
After leaving they were spotted by police in their stolen Mazda Familia about 20 minutes later and sped off north along Mangaharakeke Dr with Carroll driving on the opposite side of the road into the path of an ambulance which was forced to take evasive action.
Carroll and his co-offender were arrested while two others got away.
In jailing him for seven years and six months today, Judge Smith declined to hand down a minimum non-parole period as suggested by the Crown as she hoped he could get out of prison with an ability to be rehabilitated.
She said car thefts were "very typical offending of young men who do not care about taking the property of others but do these things because they have nothing better to do".
She told Carroll she could "only imagine" the sense of fear the victims of his crimes felt as he and associates stormed in armed with weapons.
The judge applauded him for taking part in a restorative justice conference with the Caltex Hamilton victim, whom he told "someone else was in charge that day, he said what to do and how to do it".
Carroll continued, "we just seen [aggravated robberies] on the news and thought it would be fun, just to get a name for ourselves. I didn't think we would get caught".
He was also disqualified from driving for two years.