Home invasion leads to jail
A SHOCKING case of vigilante violence and home invasion was heard in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday.
Joshua James Nelson, 28, of The Palms appeared via video link, pleading guilty to a raft of charges and was sentenced to almost three years in jail.
The charge list included three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, contravening a police direction or requirement, unauthorised dealing in shop goods, two counts of breaching bail and three counts of failing to appear.
The court heard on the most serious charges of assault, Nelson, a father of two, joined a group of five men who entered a Jones Hill address through a wire fence while carrying weapons.
Weapons in the group's possession included a long-handled axe, mattock hand and two lengths of metal piping.
The prosecution told the court Nelson and the four others attacked a group at the address on a concrete driveway before retreating to a white Nissan Patrol parked on an adjacent block. A relationship break up was behind the vicious attack.
The court learnt the vehicle belonged to Nelson's father who was also a member of the five-person group.
Police later stopped the vehicle on Woolgar Rd and a search produced a .22 calibre rifle in a guitar case with ammunition, a long-handled axe, a short silver metal bar, a modified wheel brace and a timber mattock handle.
Of the assault charges, one involved striking the back of a victim's head with an axe, while the other two counts were listed under the party provision law as Nelson was party to the assaults.
His attack on one of the victims resulted in the aggrieved being taken to hospital for a collapsed lung, fractured rib and subcutaneous gas in the neck region.
So severe were the injuries the victim was placed the hospital's high dependency unit, the court heard.
Nelson's defence lawyer addressed the court and tendered medical notes advising the defendant was suffering from a pituitary tumour, first diagnosed in 2011, and had been prescribed 40mg of oxycontin for pain management.
The defence lawyer said his client had refused treatment for the tumour for fear of surgery complications that may have caused him to forget his family members. Nelson has since indicated he is willing to undergo keyhole surgery on the advice of his doctors.
"He was in chronic pain all the time," Nelson's lawyer said, adding his client had stopped the medication since entering custody.
The defence said Nelson got involved in the incident at a late stage, prompted after seeing his father attacked.
The court was told Nelson was the prime offender in the first charge involving the axe while the prime mover of the attack was another co-offender.
Magistrate Baldwin handed down her sentence noting the "tragic circumstances".
She condemned Nelson's action and sought to send a clear deterrent.
"Your presence (in the group) added and contributed to the attack taking part," Magistrate Baldwin said.
Magistrate Baldwin signalled her frustration with the matter's path through the legal system, involving numerous lawyers since the matter was first heard in March.
She rejected the defence's description of a timely guilty plea given the plea of guilty was withdrawn numerous times.
"This was a home invasion of the worst kind," Magistrate Baldwin said.
"The community does not want people thinking violence is okay."
Magistrate Baldwin added she wanted to discourage vigilantism within the community, noting Nelson's late remorse while questioning its sincerity and saw no alternative to prison.
For the three charges of assault, Nelson received two years and 10 months ijail on the first count and a further 18 months for each of the two remaining counts.
A no-contact order was made prohibiting Nelson from engaging with the victims while compensation was also ordered, including $2500 for the first count of assault and $1000 for each of the two remaining counts.
For the charge of theft, a conviction was recorded with no further punishment.
The bail breaches attracted a conviction and a total of $330 in fines referred to SPER.
For contravention of a police direction, Nelson was convicted but not further punished while failing to appear resulted in one-month jail suspended for three years on each of the three charges.