Young offender warned of spending life in prison

A SOUTHSIDE man jailed over a courtroom brawl sparked controversy in Queensland in 2011 when he was first imprisoned with adults as a 17-year-old.

Now, aged 21, Zane James Loveridge is still behind bars.

He has been there most of his adult life.

He was not even a free man while committing his latest offences.

On December 10 last year, Loveridge was sentenced in Gympie District Court to 20 months jail for a charge of assault occasioning bodily harm.

He arrived in court under police guard having already been in jail since his arrest some months prior.

He was told by told by Judge Brendan Butler, SC, that Loveridge's personal development, while in prison, gave him hope of rehabilitation and a life away from the justice system.

Moments later the judge's words were proved wrong.

As Loveridge stood in the dock to be escorted back to jail, he lunged into the gallery and punched a man in the face who was taunting him.

Loveridge laid into the man in front of the judge and a gallery of witnesses.

It took two police constables to control Loveridge and handcuff him.

The face of one of the constables was glanced with a swinging arm in the melee.

It was Loveridge's time spent behind bars that caused controversy in the Court of Appeal in 2011.

He was jailed for three years in 2010 for holding a knife to the throat of a Ginger's Fruit and Vegetable Convenience Store worker.

The Gympie District Court sentence was appealed in Brisbane in 2011.

While the appeal was denied, Loveridge's case spurred Queensland Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo to speak out about the difficulty of sentencing 17-year-olds.

She questioned the appropriateness of imprisoning teens with adults.

Her comments were reported by Courier Mail commentator Terry Sweetman.

He said it was "counter-productive to bang them (teens) up with old stagers at a time when there is even a faint chance that good sense might kick in".

For Loveridge, as far as his history shows, the development of good sense was yet to happen.

It was made clear when Magistrate M Baldwin sentenced him for the courtroom brawl yesterday.

In a speech aimed at giving young Loveridge a reality check, Magistrate Baldwin pointed out he had spent 45 months serving out jail terms for various offences since he turned 17.

She said if he continued on the same trajectory he would spend some 42 years of his life behind bars in the next 50 years.

Before he was sentenced yet again, Loveridge's lawyer Chris Anderson explained the circumstances behind the December 10 events.

Mr Anderson said a remorseful Loveridge, who was studying a bachelor of science from behind bars, responded to taunts from the male victim in the gallery.

He said the victim's comments were "designed purely to provoke a response, which it did".

Loveridge was charged with serious obstruct police, causing a public nuisance and assault police, all of which he pleaded guilty to.

Mr Anderson said Loveridge, who was not charged with assaulting the victim, had not intended to injure police.

Loveridge was given a head sentence of six months jail to be suspended for two years after serving two months.

The courtroom melee extended his time in jail by one month.

Gympie Times

Topics:  court crime gympie jail

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