Suspended sentence for avoiding court
REPEATEDLY failing to show up to court resulted in a suspended prison term for a man living aboard his boat in the Whitsundays.
Shane Micheal John Burke was brought to Monday’s sitting of the Proserpine Magistrate’s Court in police custody charged with committing a public nuisance offence, contravening a banning notice and five counts of breaching his bail.
The 37-year-old yachtie was found drinking alcohol under the awning at the Whitsunday Sailing Club at 4.10pm on January 5.
Police prosecutor Elizabeth Smith said he became aggressive and appeared to be arguing with an imaginary person. She said he also began making masturbating gestures with his hands hence police were called to facilitate his arrest.
Burke was later released on bail and banned from licensed premises in the Airlie Beach Safe Night Precinct (SNP) for 10 days.
Just hours later, at 12.26am on January 6, he was found at Magnums Hotel where he’d just bought a jug of beer.
Ms Smith said Burke had not shown up to court to deal with these charges, telling police that on one occasion he’d got his dates mixed up and on the other he’d “gone fishing”.
Duty lawyer Sherrie Meade said on the day of the original offence, Burke had been drinking wine at the Sailing Club and became upset when he was told to leave. She said he didn’t mean any harm by his gestures or the way he spoke.
“He was just speaking out loud as to how he was feeling,” she said.
Ms Meade agreed that going to Magnums mere hours after being banned was “reckless and a “big mistake”. However, she submitted Burke’s failure to show up at court was in part due to a difficulty receiving mail while living on a boat.
“Well Mr Burke, I don’t believe an ounce of [what] you told Ms Meade,” magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist said.
“You didn’t want to come to court. Your excuses are pathetic.”
It was noted that Burke had only made it to court on this occasion after he was arrested at the Whitsunday Shopping Centre on Saturday afternoon through a tip-off to police.
For the public nuisance offence he was fined $660. For breaching the banning order “while the ink was still wet” he received a $330 fine.
For the five breaches of bail, which Mr Stjernqvist described as “contempt”, Burke was sentenced to a total of 2.5 months imprisonment, wholly and immediately suspended for nine months.
He was also banned from all licensed premises in the Airlie SNP, including the Whitsunday Sailing Club, for nine months.