Suspended sen­tence for avoid­ing court

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

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.

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