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Probation really not just a slap on wrist: magistrate

PROBATION NOT EASY: Gympie magistrate Maxine Baldwin.
PROBATION NOT EASY: Gympie magistrate Maxine Baldwin. Peter Holt

GYMPIE Magistrate Maxine Baldwin told defendants before her court yesterday that being sentenced to probation was far from a slap on the wrist.

"Probation is not a slap on the wrist," she said when sentencing Gympie man Adrian Keith Brown on charges of public nuisance, trespass and obstructing police.

The remark followed a story in The Gympie Times last Friday that labelled Magistrate Baldwin's sentencing of a drink driver "a slap on the wrist".

The driver was more than six times the legal limit when she hit a child on a skateboard at Imbil.

While Mrs Baldwin made no reference to the story yesterday, she did explain during her sentencing remarks that probation was a punishment more difficult to complete than even a suspended sentence.

"It is not easy," she said. Offenders sentenced to probation had the added task of contributing to their own rehabilitation.

That made it a more trying sentence to carry out than a simple suspended sentence where the same commitments were not required.

"I know which one I'd rather," she said.

She also explained that anyone who breached a probation order would be re-sentenced and face an additional charge of breaching the probation order.

It was the "ignorant" and "ill-informed" who considered probation to be merely a slap on the wrist.

Following the remarks, she sentenced Brown, 45, to six months probation for obstructing police at Bligh St on March 30.

The court heard Brown committed the offence by resisting walking with police to a police car after being arrested, and then refusing to get into the police car.

Brown was also sentenced to 100 hours community service for trespassing at an Alma St home and causing a public nuisance by yelling and swearing at police, and telling them he was a professional kick boxer who could "kick you to death if I wanted to".

The court heard Brown was hiding from police in the Alma St house following an incident earlier in the day. He was told repeatedly by one of the residents to leave the house and, before he finally did, he threatened to kill them.

Mrs Baldwin referred to Brown's "pretty long and horrible history" but said it was "petering out".

She said that had the same offences been carried out a couple of years ago, she would have considered a jail term for Brown.

Topics:  probation

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