Torturers sentenced over drive of terror
AN AWARD-WINNING cameraman and a transport driver have learned their fates for torturing a man while they drove him around the Sunshine Coast.
Michael Norman Tregaskis, 56, was freed from custody on Tuesday while his co-accused, 50-year-old Leon Charles Cooper, returned to jail for his role in last year's incident.
Their co-accused Wayne David Miller, 50, did not show up to Maroochydore District Court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Crown Prosecutor Greg Cummings said Tregaskis picked the 48-year-old victim up from his Cooroibah home about 11pm on February 28 on the pretence they would be going on a social outing.
But he instead stopped his car at a bus stop where the victim was violently forced by Cooper and Miller into Cooper's car.
The court heard Cooper believed the victim had told other people Cooper was a police informant
Cooper believed that had put his safety in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, Tregaskis believed the victim had ripped him off in a drug deal, which motivated his involvement.
The victim was taped by the legs, had fabric wrapped around his neck and was choked to the point of being unconscious.
When he awoke he was face down on the floor in the back of a car with his pants pulled down and Miller's foot on his neck.
Tregaskis had left the victim with Miller and Cooper but later joined them in the car.
Mr Cummings said the victim was bitten on the backside and physically restrained to the point of being sick in the car.
He also soiled himself.
"He had absolutely no control over where he was," Mr Cummings said.
"He was completely helpless."
The incident came to an end about 12.45am the next day when the victim was dragged from the car and dumped on the side of the road at Bald Knob.
He was punched and kicked before being left behind.
His wallet and cigarettes were also taken.
There were suggestions to kill him or tie him to a tree and leave him but Tregaskis said the man had been subjected to enough.
The victim was able to raise the alarm at a house after the attackers drove away.
All three men initially denied involvement when interviewed by police but Tregaskis changed his position about 10 days after the incident and made admissions.
Mr Cummings said the impact on the victim had been great.
"He considers himself broken as a result of these events," Mr Cummings said.
Defence barrister Angus Edwards said his client Tregaskis did not commit any of the violence and was the one who said the victim had had enough.
Mr Edwards said Tregaskis had won a Logie award, a Walkley award and a Penguin award in his career working for channels 7, 10 and the ABC in Adelaide, Darwin, Rockhampton and Brisbane.
But the death of his fiance in 2009 and then the deaths of his mother, brother and sister in 2011 led to Tregaskis using large amounts of the drug ice.
Mr Edwards said his client hoped to again work as a cameraman.
Defence barrister Damien Gates said his client Cooper had been a drug addict at the time of the incident.
"My client is extremely embarrassed by his participation," Mr Gates said.
He said Cooper was born in New Zealand but had been living in Australia since 1979.
Judge Brian Devereaux noted Tregaskis had already served 587 days of pre-sentence custody and Cooper had served 570 days.
He said they were mature men who should now understand the seriousness of their offences.
"It's intolerable violence and you have both received substantial penalties for them," Judge Devereaux said.
Tregaskis was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail, suspended immediately for the next four-and-a-half years.
Cooper was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail and will be eligible for parole on January 18 next year.