Three months in the can for trashing Devonport childcare centre $63K damages

STATE OF TASMANIA v N  22 JUNE 2022 COMMENTS ON PASSING SENTENCE

N , you plead guilty to burglary and unlawfully destroying property. I also agreed to deal with a further summary count of destroying property. Overnight on 13 October 2019 you broke into the Paisley Park Early Learning Childcare Centre in Devonport by smashing the glass part of the rear door with some sort of metal object. Inside you did a great deal of damage to furniture and fittings and telecommunications equipment. You trashed the storeroom containing art supplies, bedding and linen, decorations and infant products. Paint and glitter were strewn around the walls and ceiling of the centre. Numerous windows were broken. Plasterboard in the ceiling was cracked. Blood stains were left on door handles, on furniture, in the shower cubicle and even on trusses in the roof space. A shower head was pulled from its fitting and left on the floor.

The Centre was closed for the three days it took to undertake the clean-up. The total cost of repairing the damage to the building and replacing the destroyed items was almost $63,000. About eight skip bins were required to dispose of equipment, furniture and fittings, bedding and linen and supplies which had to be discarded.

On the same night you walked through the grounds of the Reece High School and broke a window and the glass part of a door by elbowing them. The total repair cost was $518.00.

You were identified as the person who broke the windows at the High School from CCTV. It became apparent that you were the person responsible for the damage to the child care centre because you presented yourself to the occupier of the unit next door apparently significantly affected by substances with cuts and abrasions and covered in glitter and paint, claiming that you had broken into the Centre to hide from a male person you did not identify, but who had attacked you.

You are now aged 38. Your 11 year marriage ended in 2018. As I understand it you initially had care of your four children, but ongoing problems created by your husband difficulties led you first to a women’s shelter. You claim that he had been violent and threatening. Of course have no way of testing the correctness of that allegation and mention it only to put in context the subsequent deterioration of your mental health. You resorted to use of methylamphetamine. Your children now live with their father in Victoria. You developed a serous addiction which you have been struggling with ever since. You have had a couple of stints at a residential treatment centre and a period of hospitalisation. You no longer maintain that you broke into the centre to escape an attacker. That account would not explain the bizarre nature of the damage you did, which could in my view only be rationally explained by having been done in the grip of some drug induced frenzy. You caused senseless damage which imposed a considerable cost and caused a great deal of disruption and inconvenience. I will make a compensation order but you will not be able to pay it, at least for a very long time.

You pleaded guilty to these charges on 12 February 2020 which was your third appearance in the Magistrates Court. No trial has ever been necessary but no explanation has been offered about why your plea has taken so long to deal with. You were arrested on 5 May 2022 and have been in custody since then from which I infer that there may have been some problem with your attendance at court. If that is so you will be punished separately. At the time these offences were committed you had no prior convictions at all, but in September 2020 you were sentenced by a magistrate for other charges, some of which were committed before and some since. You were fined for other occasions of trespass and destroying property, though nowhere near as serious as this, as well as breaching bail and possessing cannabis. Some of those charges also took a very long time to deal with. One was for driving on 5 December 2018 with the remarkably high alcohol level of .0321 for which you were given a short suspended sentence. Because that sentence was not imposed until September 2020 you are not in breach of the suspended sentence, but it is aggravating that you were on bail when the offences I am dealing with were committed. An assessment report from Community Corrections indicates that you require a very high level of intervention. Your addiction makes you unsuitable for community service. I am to balance the need to punish you for what you did, discourage you and others from acting in a similar way in the future, and taking what steps are available to me to encourage you to overcome your addiction and return to a law abiding life.

You are convicted on each count on complaint 54873/2019. I make compensation orders in favour of Ansvar Insurance (Australia) Ltd in the sum of $62,789.77 and Reece High School in the sum of $518. I impose one sentence. You are sentenced to imprisonment for eight months from 5 May 2022. I suspend five months of that term for two years from today on the following conditions:

  • You are not to commit another offence punishable by imprisonment during that period. If you breach that condition you will be required to serve the suspended part of term unless that is unjust.
  • On your release which will be after having served three months from 5 May 2022, for the balance of the two year operational period of the order, you will be subject to the supervision of a Community Corrections officer. The conditions referred to in s 24(5B) of the Sentencing Act apply to this condition and will be set out in a document you will be given. These include that you must report to a Community Corrections officer within three clear days of your release, that you submit to supervision and comply with the directions given by of your probation officer, that you not leave Tasmania without permission and that you notify of any change of address.
  • In addition to the core conditions, the order will also include the following special conditions that you must, during the operational period of the order:
  1. attend educational and other programs as directed by the Court or a Community Corrections officer;
  2. submit to the supervision of a Community Corrections officer as required by that officer;
  • undergo assessment and treatment for drug dependency as directed by a Community Corrections officer;
  1. submit to testing for drug use as directed by such an officer;
  2. submit to medical, psychological or psychiatric assessment or treatment as directed by a Community Corrections officer;
  3. attend and complete the EQUIPS addition program as directed by a Community Corrections officer.

If you breach any of those conditions you may be brought back to Court and re-sentenced.

Vigilante News

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