Edward Blair Kennedy.
Edward Blair Kennedy. Contributed

Burnett Heads shooter to be deported after long prison term

EDWARD Blair Kennedy, the man who shot at two people during a drug deal-turned-violent-robbery, has been sentenced to seven years behind bars. But that won't be the only consequence of his actions at Burnett Heads seven months ago.

Bundaberg District Court today heard the 27-year-old father would most likely be deported back to New Zealand, his country of birth, after serving at least one third of his sentence (two years and four months), following which he will be eligible for parole release.

Kennedy pleaded guilty to one count each of unlawful wounding, grievous bodily harm, possessing a weapon used to wound and engaging in conduct with a weapon used to injure.

His co-offender, Matthew Charles Crane, 29, pleaded guilty to the same charges, apart from engaging in conduct with a weapon used to injure.

The third defendant, Corey John Roll, 28, also appeared at today's sentencing where he pleaded guilty to one count each of supplying a weapon and accessory after grievous bodily harm.

The charges laid against all three men, along with a fourth co-offender Brodie John Fagan, 25, arose after a shooting at Burnett Heads on April 9.

Police suspicions over the incident arose when they found out Bundaberg paramedics had rushed a man suffering from a gunshot wound to hospital earlier that day.

Matthew Charles Crane.
Matthew Charles Crane. Contributed

The injury resulted after Kennedy, Crane, Fagan and Roll opted to take a rifle with them to a drug deal at Burnett Heads. But Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said it had never been the men's intentions (apart from Roll who bailed at the last minute) to pay for the drugs. Instead, Kennedy, Crane and Fagan hatched up a plan to steal 7lbs of marijuana, understood to be worth about $21,000, from their two victims.

Before driving to Burnett Heads, Crane cut up papers and put them in an envelope to resemble a "large amount of cash".Mr Cook told the court Kennedy said he'd feel safer with a gun, which Roll then later supplied before leaving the group.

It is understood Fagan loaded the rifle before handing it to Kennedy.

Once the three men arrived at the organised location, Kennedy and Fagan stayed in the car while Crane went to meet the dealers. He tried to steal the drugs, but a struggle quickly ensued.

Fagan jumped out of the car and ran to Crane's aid, but was unable to stop him from being tasered by one of the two victims.

Following Fagan's lead, Kennedy sprinted toward the brawl and pointed the rifle at the ground before pulling the trigger.

At this point, one of the two men begged Kennedy: "Please don't shoot us, please don't shoot us!"

Corey John Roll.
Corey John Roll. Contributed

Kennedy fired the weapon again this time aiming it in between the man's foot.

The third time he pulled the trigger, the bullet hit the road, causing gravel to ricochet into the air and lodge itself in the victim's skin.

The man yelled: "He's shot me, I've been shot!"

During the retreat, Kennedy shot at the other man as well, hitting him in the leg.

"(He) was actually running from you when you fired that shot," Judge Katherine McGinness said. She added the man had and would continue enduring surgeries because of the gunshot wound, and would struggle walking, getting dressed and working in the future.

"His life will never be the same." Judge McGinness said.

After fleeing the scene, the three men drove the car back to Roll's house where they gave him the gun.

Roll hid the weapon at someone else's home, after which, 10 days later, it was found by police. "Police investigations moved quickly and swiftly ... (It was an) excellent investigation conducted by police," Mr Cook said.

The man whose flesh was pierced by gravel spent four days in hospital and months on crutches.

The gunshot victim had to be airlifted to Brisbane Hospital for treatment.

The court heard when police first spoke to Crane, he gave a false account of what had happened at Burnett Heads.

Two days later, however, his honesty helped set police investigations into the right direction.

Crane's defence barrister said his client struggled with drugs but had, since being taken into custody 207 days ago, completed a substance abuse course.

The first offence on his criminal history - fraud - only arose last year.

Judge McGinness sentenced Crane to four years in prison, suspended after serving 14 months.

Less severe was Roll's penalty, which included two years in prison with eligibility for parole release after five months.

Brodie John Fagan.
Brodie John Fagan. Contributed

Judge McGinness declared Roll having served 36 days in pre-sentence custody (before he was released on bail in May), making the date he could walk as March 8, 2019.

Defence barrister Scott Lynch said his client's criminal history consisted only of stealing and drug offences, had only ever used drugs casually and currently worked as a boilermaker.

He added Roll was came from a good family and was the father of three children.

"They must go through such heartache and worry for you as I know you appreciate," Judge McGinness said.

Principle offendor, Kennedy, was sentenced to seven years in prison with a parole eligibility date after two years and four months (August 15, 2020).

He has already served 211 days in pre-sentence custody.

Fagan was sentenced to four years in prison suspended after one year from the date he was placed in custody (April 18, 2018) for one count each of grievous bodily harm, wounding, and possessing a weapon on July 20.

Mr Cook said Kennedy had the "most serious criminal history of the four offenders involved" and that his penalty needed to reflect Australia's stance on guns.

"Because of Australia's strong gun laws, we don't often see shootings," he said.

"But the dangers of guns in the community are paramount and you only have to look at the TV and see that in America all the time there are shootings of a great nature.

"So general deterence is a very important consideration in (this) sentence."

Kennedy's defence barrister James Benjamin said his client, despite having moved to Australia with his mother at 15, would most likely be deported to New Zealand after being released from prison.

He has previously been convicted for supplying ecstasy and producing methamphetamine.

"The scourge of ice that lays waste to so much of the community is a significant driving feature in (his offending)," Mr Benjamin said.

He submitted his client should be sentenced to six or six-and-a-half years in prison, but Judge McGinness disgreed.

"I just think that's too low," she said.



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