Plea to stay out of jail

A PEDESTRIAN who threatened a driver with a knife in a Gympie road-rage incident found himself running for his life when the driver stopped the car, grabbed a shovel from the boot and chased him up the street with it.

The drama began when the pedestrian, Darren James Price, 23, was walking up the middle of Myall St with his mother on April 28 of this year.

He was walking on the road because the grass was wet and he was wearing new shoes, Gympie Magistrates Court heard yesterday.

A car drove past the pair, nearly hit them and beeped its horn.

Price gave the driver a hand gesture.

The driver braked, reversed back to where the mother and son stood and "said a few choice words".

His partner and two children were also in the car.

Price, who has smoked marijuana since he was 12 years old and is so terrified of dogs he is on medication and carries a knife in his pants for protection, walked up to the car's passenger window and brandished the knife.

He used a stabbing motion, thrusting the knife through the window in front of the female passenger, towards the driver, the court was told.

Price's solicitor, from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, said when Price realised there were children in the car he felt bad and walked away.

But the driver got out, grabbed a camping shovel from the boot of the Honda and chased him up the road until Price ran into a unit in Myall St.

"This incident was certainly not instigated by my client," Price's lawyer said.

"He is extremely remorseful; especially when he saw children in the car."

When police arrived in Myall St, they found Price at the unit but could not find the knife.

The court heard yesterday Price had hidden it under a washing machine.

Police did however find a bong.

Price pleaded guilty yesterday to going armed in public to cause fear and to possessing the bong.

Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said 40% of the people who faced similar charges in her court were given jail terms.

"I have got to make sure I send a clear message to you that knives in public are not on," she told Price.

"I also have to send a clear message to the public that anyone who has a knife in public and ends up in this court will be dealt with severely."

Mrs Baldwin commended Price for "stepping up" and taking care of his three-year-old daughter, and asked him to consider how it would be if he was suddenly ripped out of her life by being sent to prison.

She sentenced him to a month's prison, suspended for one year.

The court heard Price showed police where the bong was because he had stopped smoking marijuana three weeks earlier and wanted it out of the house so there was no temptation to use it.

Mrs Baldwin convicted him of possessing the bong but ordered no further punishment "because that's the best news I could have heard".

She said half the young people who constantly smoked marijuana developed mental illnesses varying from depression to full-blown schizophrenia.

Gympie Times

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