How not to solve housemate issues

We’ve all had that housemate: the one who’s never adjusted to the fact that their mother isn’t there to clean up after them. It’s still not a good idea to go Jackie Chan on them.

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On 2 August 2017 a 32 year old man from Portland, Australia, locked a housemate out of their dwelling.  When the housemate arrived home at 3:30am, the offender began to berate them over uncompleted chores, finally pushing them onto a bed and slapping them.  He was charged with recklessly causing injury (Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.), §18):

A person who, without lawful excuse, … recklessly causes injury to another person is guilty of an indictable offence. Penalty: … If the injury was caused recklessly—level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum).

The offender pleaded guilty in Portland Magistrates Court.  Toose M fined him $1,000.00.

Police v King (2018) Portland Observer & Guardian, 2 May 2018, p.5.

Taxidermy: not always a good idea

In June 2017 staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning raided the home of a man in Kilmore, Australia.  They located a stuffed koala mounted as a wall decoration.  The man admitted to shooting the koala with a .22 rifle, stuffing and mounting it.  His only explanation was that it was “something to do”.

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It appears he was charged with breaching the Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic.), §§ 43 and 47D.  Section 43(1) provides that –

A person must not hunt, take or destroy other protected wildlife.  Penalty: 50 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment or both the fine and imprisonment and an additional penalty of 5 penalty units for every head of wildlife in respect of which an offence has been committed.

Section 47D(1) states that –

A person must not have wildlife in his or her possession or control if that wildlife has been taken, destroyed, acquired, received, bought, sold, disposed of, kept, possessed, controlled, bred, processed or displayed in contravention of this Act or any corresponding law of another State or a Territory of the Commonwealth.  Penalty: 240 penalty units or 24 months imprisonment or both.

The offender was dealt with in Seymour Magistrates Court in April 2018.  He was found guilty of the offences charged.  He was placed on a good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $1,000.00 to the Court Fund.

Dep’t of Environment, Land, Water and Planning v Simpson* (2018) Seymour Telegraph, 16 May 2018, p.12


* The offender is not identified in the report; I have taken the liberty of drawing a name from The Simpsons.

And punish the sick

There’s been quite the brouhaha here over the last few days over the non-custodial sentences given to two women who attacked and injured a paramedic.  The case, if you’re interested, was Director of Public Prosecutions v Warren & Underwood [2018] VCC 689.  The public response has been predictably savage, and remarkably unforgiving when one considers that both women were (and are) apparently remarkably damaged after lifetimes of physical and sexual abuse.  Attempts by me to defend the decision were not well received –

It’s a bit of a surprise to be called a “bleeding heart socialist” after a lifetime as an old-school right winger!

More troubling are the proposed reforms reported in yesterday’s Age, and in particular this one –

Ambulance Employees state secretary Steve McGhie said he was given an undertaking from the Premier that he would change laws to jail people who injure emergency services workers, even if they are suffering from mental illnesses including schizophrenic episodes.

I have a stake in this: I am an “emergency services worker” when I’m not being a lawyer (State Emergency Service, Coast Guard and Red Cross).  But I can’t stomach the idea that protecting me warrants effectively re-criminalizing mental illness.  It is too close to punishing for the sake of punishing.

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I have to agree with Pope Francis: punishments which are imposed in the hope of frightening people into compliance – public punishments – are a hammer that makes every problem look like a nail:

a widespread conviction has taken root in recent decades that public punishment can resolve the most disparate social problems, as if completely different diseases could be treated with the same medicine. This is not so much about trust in some social function traditionally attributed to public punishment, as about the belief that it is possible that such punishment can obtain those benefits that would demand the application of a different type of social and economic policy as well as social inclusion.

A politician grubbing for votes by coming down hard on criminals is merely acting in a tawdry and predictable manner.  One who does so by coming down hard on the ill is repulsive.

Sometimes everyone loses

Sometimes nobody wins.

Image credit: Shepparton News

Mr Dajko was drinking on the night of 24 July 2016.  When he got in his car early the next morning he was tired and still had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08.  A kangaroo hooped onto the road in front of him near Tatura, Australia.  He swerved to avoid it, lost control of his car and collided with a light truck, fatally injuring the driver.

The defendant was charged with exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol and with careless driving.  His ‘carelessness’ took the form of intoxication, fatigue and sudden swerving.  The Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic.) §65(1) provides that

A person who drives a motor vehicle on a highway carelessly is guilty of an offence and liable for a first offence to a penalty of not more than 12 penalty units and for a subsequent offence to a penalty of not more than 25 penalty units.

The defendant pleased guilty in Shepparton Magistrates Court.  Stuthridge M accepted that “this was an accident in the sense the kangaroo was involved and [the defendant] lost control of his vehicle”.  She also accepted that he was deeply troubled by the accident. Her Honour fined the defendant $1,000.00 and suspended his drivers licence for 16 months.

Police v Dajko (2017) Shepparton News, 29 August 2017, p.1.

Give up already.

It helps to know when to walk away.

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On 13 February 2018 a man in western Victoria, Australia, asked a family member to buy paint for him.  When they declined, he became angry and smashed windows in the family home and car.  He was charged with breaching §197(1) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.):

A person who intentionally and without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another or to himself and another shall be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).

On 14 February 2018 the Hamilton Magistrates Court issued an intervention order directing him not to recontact a particular family member or to enter the family home.  Despite this, later in February he entered the home and became aggressive towards the family member.  The charge of breaching an intervention order was added to the prosecution.

The offender was presented for trial in Portland Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty.  He was fined $1,000.00 by Toose M.

Police v Bradley (2018) Portland Observer & Guardian, 2 May 2018, p.5

A shotgun won’t help

Grabbing the front passenger seat in a car can be accompanied by a cry of “shotgun”.  Sometimes it’s followed by a police officer saying “busted”.

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On 24 December 2017 a driver in Rosebud, Australia, was driving home after a few celebratory glasses of champagne.  He encountered a police checkpoint and, while waiting, swapped seats with his (sober) wife.  This was observed by police, who asked him to take a breath test.  He was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.055 (the legal limit being 0.05).

The driver was charged with breaching §49(1)(b) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic.).  He was dealt with in Dromana Magistrates Court.  It was noted that he had two prior drink-driving charges.  Lethbridge M noted that a fourth charge was likely to result in imprisonment.  On this occasion he was disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined $750.00.

Police v Raymond (2018), Mornington Peninsula Leader, 1 May 2018, p.5.

Bringing a knife to a … dammit.

An old country song cautions against taking your guns to town.  That advice applies prudently to other weapons.

dont take guns
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On 11 June 2017 a man went to attend a rally by an Australian neo-Nazi group known as the True Blue Crew.  Victoria Police, anticipating conflict, had declared the area to be a “designated area”, giving them expanded search powers.  The Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic.), §10G(1) states that –

A police officer may, without a warrant, stop and search a person, and search any thing in the possession of or under the control of the person for weapons, if the person and, if applicable, the thing are in a public place that is within a designated area.

The accused’s car was searched, with a flick-knife and knuckledusters being found.  The report is slightly unclear but is appears he was charged with possessing a prohibited weapon in breach of §5AA of the Act.

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Dandenong Magistrates Court, claiming to have forgotten the weapons were in his vehicle.

Vandersteen M noted that the defendant suffered from a psychiatric condition, but also noted that he had a prior weapons conviction and was attending a rally by a racist organization.  The defendant was sentenced to a 12 month good behaviour bond with a condition that he continue to receive psychiatric treatment.

Police v Martin (2018), Endeavour Hills, Hallam and Doveton Star-Journal, 23 April 2018, p.3

You, sir, are an object lesson

The creators of South Park were quite right:

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On 18 March 2018 Mr Pearce’s vehicle was searched by police in Victoria, Australia.  The search turned up a cornucopia of drugs including cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy.  It was found that he was already wanted for other driving and drug offences.

Mr Pearce was charged with a range of drug and driving offences, as well as a charge of breaching a community corrections order for still other drug offences.  His matter was dealt with in Frankston Magistrates Court.

At trial the defendant pleaded guilty and submitted that his life had “spiralled out of control” due to drug addiction and relationship failure.  Crisp M sentenced the defendant to 10 months imprisonment and imposed a fine of $2,200 and a five year  driving ban.

Police v Pearce (2018), Mornington Peninsula Leader, 24 April 2018, p.5.