Man’s suspended sentence extended after string of offences
A KINGAROY man who spent four months behind bars for the death of his passenger when he fell asleep while driving in 2018, was back in court for breaching his suspended sentence.
Gregory Lee Clarke faced Kingaroy District Court charged with breaching his suspended sentence of two years and nine months, suspended for three years.
Crown prosecutor Alex Stark made reference to Clarke’s history.
The last entry in his history was from July 2020, which indicated one count of possessing a utensil, one count of public nuisance, two counts of stealing, one count of failing to appear and one count going armed to cause fear.
All of these charges occurred while serving his suspended sentence.
Prosecutor Stark said all of the offences are somewhat minor.
“The complainants worked as trolley collectors at Kingaroy Shopping World, they left backpacks in their storing compartments and this defendant took items from the backpacks, being a packet of tobacco and a bike mounted torch,” Prosecutor Stark said.
“The failure to appear in accordance of the undertaking is self evident to the nature of the charge. Police attended and located him and asked why he failed to appear at his court date and again I refer to the police QP9, his reply was ‘because of my mental health problems. I know I missed court, I booked into the Toowoomba mental health hospital’.
“The commit public nuisance was effectively a disturbance or an agitation at Centrelink and according to the police court brief, it appears he did not want to answer a COVID-19 question and became agitated and caused the disturbance that was the public nuisance.
“The going armed to cause fear was a somewhat unusual offence where police were detailed to attend a residence in Kingaroy in relation to a matter between him and his sister. Upon police attending he became agitated, said he was going to get a sword, went and got it, came out with the sword, police told him to drop it, fortunately there was other parties present, police withdrew and the other people were able to calm the situation and the defendant did drop the sword.”
The court heard the sword measured 67cm in length, including the handle.
Defence lawyer Catherine Cuthbert appeared on behalf of Clarke.
Mrs Cuthbert said given his history and the pettiness of the offending, she would be submitting it would be unjust to activate the suspended sentence.
“In relation to the going armed in public, Mr Clarke himself called the police because he was in crisis and that’s why the police attended and then upon their attending he displayed erratic behaviour,” Mrs Cuthbert said.
“Your honour may gather from the nature of the public nuisance and the going armed offences that this man has some mental health problems.
“The man is racked by guilt, flashbacks and nightmares from the dangerous drive causing death, he is subject to panic attacks, one of which my instructing solicitor and I witnessed this morning.
“I would make the following submissions on penalty that the offending is petty as described by my friend. The first offence appears quite late into the operational period some 22 months, that’s nearly two thirds of the way along.
“Given this man’s history and struggles to cope with the death of that passenger of that accident, it would be unjust to impose any of the remainder of the suspended sentence.”
Judge Geraldine Dann said the offences, which brought him before the court are offences both the prosecution and the defence have identified as petty.
“The prosecution informed the court of the circumstances that involved picking up a sword after police had attended a residence in Kingaroy and I note that the defence has indicated you had actually called the police because of your level of agitation,” Judge Dann said.
“The prosecution accepts there is some evidence of mental health issues.
“Your council Mrs Cuthbert has outlined a series of significant difficulties under which you were labouring.”
Judge Dann ordered Clarke’s suspended sentence to be extended for a period of 12 months.