Kingaroy District Court heard how a young man turned to drugs to try and cope with his grief.
Kingaroy District Court heard how a young man turned to drugs to try and cope with his grief. KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Man's grief after brother dies in cruel game of 'courage'

THE brother of a young man who lost his life in a horrendous game of 'courage' has faced court after turning to drugs to deal with his grief.

In 2016 the young man had been socialising in Cherbourg with a group of young people who were addicted to drugs and sniffing petrol.

He was involved in an activity, similar to Russian Roulette, to see who had the 'courage' to hang themselves before the others rescued him.

The details of the man's death were outlined in a court hearing involving his older brother, Francis Purcell.

Purcell paid the price for the way he dealt with his grief and loneliness in Kingaroy District Court on March 11, 2019.

Defence lawyer Catherine Cuthbert said this was a particular sort of grief issue which can arise in indigenous communities.

"No one rescued this boy, and he died as a result of the hanging,” she said.

The court heard this event sent the now 25-year-old man into a world of grief.

"For a long time he didn't feel anything, he felt lost, and felt like he wanted to kill himself,” she said.

Purcell was the brunt of major bullying in Cherbourg and moved to Caboolture to get away.

After the move, he struggled with loneliness and isolation away from the indigenous community.

"When people offer him to smoke yandi (marijuana) he takes them up,” Miss Cuthbert said.

Lawyer Mr R. Reid said a police search on October 17, 2018 revealed a bong in the 25-year-old man's bedroom and a small amount of marijuana seeds.

He was charged with possessing dangerous drugs and possessing pipes and utensils used in a drug offence, for which he was fined $500.

These two drug offences formed a breach of Purcell's suspended sentence for a rape he was sentenced for in 2015.

Miss Cuthbert said Purcell had been depressed at the time the drugs were found.

The court heard the man, who has an IQ of 70, is on a disability support pension.

"A young man like Francis Purcell doesn't do well in prison,” she said.

"He understands the risk he's put himself in and understands he has to stop breaking the law, even with these low-level offences.”

Judge Nicole Kefford said she considered the low-level nature of the offending, however this was the man's second breach of the suspended sentence.

"It would be unjust to have you serve the whole of the suspended term, or even part of it,” she said.

The operational period of the five-year and three-year suspended sentence was extended by six months.

South Burnett

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