Why magistrate wanted repeat offender out of jail
A MAGISTRATE'S determination to get a repeat offender off the "merry-go-round" of crime and jail time led to an unusual decision in a Maryborough court.
James Crane appeared by video link as magistrate Terry Duroux agonised over how to get Crane out of jail and into rehab.
In a complicated sentencing hearing in Maryborough Magistrates Court on Monday, multiple charges against Crane were dropped, including break-and-enter and weapons charges.
Other, less serious charges were added, making Mr Duroux's job difficult as he came up with a sentence that was both fair and appropriate.
There were long periods of silence in the courtroom as Mr Duroux carefully considered his options.
One thing was clear - he did not want Crane to spend another day behind bars.
He had already spent more than 140 days in pre-sentence custody and Mr Duroux said any more jail time would be "unjust" for the 33-year-old man who had serious mental health and drug addiction struggles.
Crane's charges, spanning from March 2018 to June 2020, included trespass, evading police and a fuel drive-off in Bundaberg.
He pleaded guilty to all charges.
Police prosecutor Angela Trevaskis told the court Crane had offended while on parole, and while on a suspended sentence from the Supreme Court for drug crimes.
Crane's defence lawyer, Natasha McKeough from Morton and Morton, handed the magistrate a number of letters, including a handwritten letter from Crane detailing his commitment to changing his criminal ways by attending rehab.
His parents also wrote a letter and supported him in court.
Ms McKeough said Crane suffered from mental health issues, drug addiction and paranoia, which led him to where he was today.
In her detailed defence, Ms McKeough argued Mr Duroux should consider a "significant fine" for Crane's breach of parole, rather than jail time.
Mr Duroux said while it was unusual, he agreed more jail time was not appropriate.
"That would be a crushing sentence which isn't warranted with his health issues," Mr Duroux said.
"I just, in good conscience, can't jail him on that.
"Ordinarily I would, (let me) make it very clear I would."
Mr Duroux said the only way Crane would get off the "merry-go-round" and start to get his life together would be if he got out of jail and got help.
He noted Crane had already organised a bed at a rehab centre and had transport arranged.
After close to an hour, Mr Duroux handed Crane a $6677.50 fine and declared time served.
Crane was released from custody and convictions were recorded.
His alleged suspended sentence breach will be dealt with by the Maryborough Supreme Court at a later date.