He was the mastermind behind a spate of armed robberies, a "Fagin-type character" who used violence and intimidation to force two baby-faced bandits to hold up five Hunter service stations in six nights.
He put a knife to their throats, forced one teenager to smoke ice for the first time, armed them with syringes apparently filled with blood, drove the getaway car and pocketed the lion's share of the proceeds.
Payne armed a juvenile with a syringe at Islington in the early hours of June 2 and ordered him into the United service station.
A few nights later, Payne held a knife to the throat of Samuel Barnes, then 18, forced him to smoke ice for the first time and then, after driving to a service station at Muswellbrook, put a knife to his throat again and told him to rob it.
The next day, Payne told Barnes to hold up a service station at Raymond Terrace.
But when he was unsuccessful - the console operator refused to open the doors to the suspicious looking teen in the Superman jumper - Payne became "enraged". Payne told Barnes he had to keep trying.
From there, they targeted servos at Heatherbrae and Maitland, making it four robberies in two nights and catching the attention of the State Crime Command's Robbery and Serious Crime Squad.
The two young armed robbers were arrested within a month.
Detectives employed "covert strategies" in a bid to implicate Payne, conducting "physical and electronic surveillance", which captured Payne admitting to supplying the teenagers with clothing to commit one of the armed robberies.
He also admitted to driving two teenagers to the United service station at Maitland so they could hold it up and said he disposed of their clothing so they wouldn't get caught.
On November 16 last year, detectives saw him driving a car stolen during a break-in at Rutherford and, when Payne went to bed, they took it back.
The next day they arrested him, prompting Payne to become aggressive. Payne appeared in Newcastle Local Court via audio visual link from Parklea Correctional Centre.
He pleaded guilty to three armed robberies, with two other attempted armed robberies, two counts of driving while disqualified and driving a stolen car.
"He was a Fagin-type character, operating in the shadows and sending his minions forth," Crown prosecutor P.J. O'Brien said during Payne's sentencing on Thursday.
Fagin, a character in Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, was the leader of a group of children whom he taught how to be criminals.
One of the service station attendants read a victim impact statement in court on Thursday, outlining for Payne the emotional torment that has plagued her since Barnes pulled out his syringe.
"I had a million thoughts running through my head, like: 'What if he stabs me with it, what if he jumps the counter?' " the woman said.
Judge Roy Ellis sentenced Payne to a maximum of 5½ years in jail, with a non-parole period of three years and three months.
He said he was encouraged by Payne's willingness to attend a residential drug rehabilitation facility once released from custody.
With time served, Payne will be eligible for parole in February 2020.
Last year, Barnes was sentenced in Newcastle District Court to an 18-month suspended jail term.