Offender runs out of last chances

GYMPIE Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said the community should no longer be subjected to John Morris’ anti-social behaviour and sent him to jail for a minimum of five months.

The habitual offender seemed unconcerned when he appeared in the court dock on Friday for sentencing on nine offences committed over a four-month period. Morris was taken into custody on January 25 after officers found him hiding in bush near his father’s Pie Creek property. Detectives were investigating the theft of a car as well as a traffic crash involving the car that same day.

There was also a warrant for Morris’ arrest because he failed to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court in December to deal with a public nuisance offence he committed at Southbank in November.

Gympie Magistrates Court heard Morris’ bout of criminal behaviour kicked off on October 18 when police were called to stop him and his brother from fighting people at a party. They were given a warning and told to leave. However, one hour later they returned, refusing to leave. When officers arrived, the pair were trying to ride a bicycle they had taken from the residence and yelled and swore at police when confronted.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said the bike’s owner was too scared to report a complaint, but the Morris brothers were charged with committing a public nuisance.

On November 10, Southbank security dealt with three intoxicated people, including John Morris, who were swearing and yelling at people in the parklands. Security attempted to issue them with a 10-day exclusion notice but they refused to comply and police were called to escort them away.

In Gympie on December 4, a frightened Rifle Range Road resident was woken at 2.45am and called 000 because of loud swearing and yelling going on outside her home.

The court heard a taxi driver had refused to give the group a ride because of their aggressive manner and when police turned up they ran off but were later found in Tozer Park.

With charges mounting up, Morris was granted bail again but less than a month later was back in trouble with police. At 12.40am on January 1, police were watching a large group of people milling around at Rainbow Beach when they observed Morris run up to a man and punch him in the head, knocking him to the ground. He then failed to provide his identifying particulars by January 8 and gave no reason why he didn’t attend the police station to do so.

Later that month, police received a complaint about a stolen car, which was involved in a traffic incident the same day, January 19. The court heard the owner of the car left the keys on the kitchen table and when police located Morris he admitted to visiting the owner a couple of days before.

Morris told officers he was driving the car when it hit the back of a station wagon stopped at the intersection of Horseshoe Bend and Lawrence Street. He did a quick U-turn and drove away from the scene but the car was later seen being used as a paddock basher at his father’s Pie Creek property and it was discovered Morris had driven the car into a tree.

When officers arrived to question Morris, he ran and hid from police and he was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle, driving without due care and attention, obstructing police and disqualified driving. “This court has bent over backwards to assist (Morris). The time has come for him to take responsibility for his own actions,” Snr Const Manns said. Defence solicitor Chris Anderson said his client’s behaviour stemmed from an alcohol problem however, Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said she put the blame entirely on Morris.

“No one puts a gun to your head and forces you to drink,” she said and voiced the concerns of the community when she said the nonsense couldn’t go on anymore. Morris was sentenced to prison with a parole release date of July 19. He was also sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, which were wholly suspended for two years.

Gympie Times

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