In the Magistrates Court at Brisbane, like any other Magistrates Court, serious offences like Burglary and commit indictable offence under section 419(4) of the Criminal Code Queensland and Possessing dangerous Drugs under s 9 of the Drugs Misuse Act Queensland can easily result in jail time. The fact that the matter is at the Brisbane Magistrates Court level does not mean that serious penalties are not imposed for such criminal law offences. For example in 2016, a man suffering the ill-effects of taking Ice was charged with home invasion in Bundamba, part of the Ipswich district. He was eventually sentenced in front of the Brisbane Courts, to 30 months non-parole of 8 months, as criminal law offences can usually be shifted from one jurisdiction to another for a sentence.
Just after midnight, the Applicant was observed by his mother to be pacing backwards and forwards, and to become more and more agitated. He eventually left the property and without any reason, he ended up a few doors down at the complainants’ residence. The defendant did not know the complainants. He broke in the front door. He instructs he remembers that that once inside, he knocked some pictures off the wall. He recalls snapping out of it, realising he was somewhere he shouldn’t be and doing something he did not want to be doing. The defendant apologised to the male, walked across the road, and waited for the police to arrive. As such it was one of the shortest home invasions one could imagine. His actions confirmed that he did not recall forming an intention in relation to the burglary. If anything, it was fleeting, and once he realised what he was doing, he desisted. He did not cause any violence, nor take anything. The damage that was caused was part of his immediate conduct on breaking in the front door.
Unfortunately, the defendant had a prior offence for a similar charge of enter dwelling and commit an indictable offence, and had been to jail. As such he had one existing serious criminal law conviction for a similar offence, which would be taken into account by the sentencing magistrate in Brisbane.
Comparative Cases for Home Invasions in Brisbane
In the case of R v Button DC No 134 of 2012 in the criminal law registry, the defendant committed one burglary and stole about $30,000 worth of jewellery. He had a prior conviction for an offence of enter dwelling and commit an indictable offence several years earlier, but the Judge accepted that was trivial. The defendant had the benefit of youth, but it is significant that only about $700 of the jewellery was recovered, and that the defendant in that case had clear intent to steal, and did so. He was sentenced to 12 months, wholly suspended for 18 months.
In the case of R v Harris DC No 95 of 2011 in the criminal law registry, the defendant smashed into a woman’s house when she was not there, and ransacked the whole house, stealing a number of items. Discovering the ransacked house would have caused her distress. The defendant had made good steps to rehabilitating himself. The defendant had a serious problem with drugs and there were obvious periods where his drug use led to reoffending followed by periods where he was drug free. The head sentence may have been 18-24 months with actual time, but due to having a good relationship, having rehabilitated to an extent, he was sentenced to 12 months wholly suspended for three years.
In the case of the R v Dargan DC at Bowen 18 November 2015 in the criminal law registry, the defendant was found guilty by a jury of burglary and stealing. It was serious but considered opportunistic. The defendant had the benefit of youth, and had cooperated. He had the support of his family and partner. He had no criminal history, but after the offence, had history for breaches of domestic violence orders. He was sentenced to six months wholly suspended for 18 months.
After applying for Bail to the Brisbane District Court in the criminal law registry, and appealing against sentence, a new figure of 18 months was substituted. The case is a good reminder of the need to ensure that first offences do not result in jail time, which can easily occur when they are handled without an exploration of the cases, as the defendant had great difficulty avoiding actual prison time on the second offence.