Dad jailed over Burnett Heads drug deal-turned-shooting
A COURT has heard how a group's botched plan to steal more than $21,000 worth of marijuana changed the trajectory of one man's life forever.
Yesterday Judge Jennifer Rosengren told the Bundaberg District Court one of the five men involved in the drug deal gone wrong had undergone five operations and spent more than three weeks in hospital after he was shot in the leg at Burnett Heads.
"As a result of the gunshot wounds, he may never surf or work on a boat again - two of his passions," she said.
Judge Rosengren added the man may never make a full recovery and had suffered both physically and psychologically ever since the shooting on April 9.
She spoke these words to Bundaberg man Brodie John Fagan, 25, who pleaded guilty from the witness box at yesterday's sentencing to grievous bodily harm, wounding, and possessing a weapon.
The court heard how on the night of the bungled drug deal Fagan was himself on drugs and did not know one of his two co-accuseds had brought a firearm until they were already en route.
Crown prosecutor Chris Cook said Fagan had been under the impression he was partaking in a "clean" deal before one of his co-accuseds, Edward Blair Kennedy, told him the weapon was only going to be used to scare those involved if things went south.
Mr Kennedy and Matthew Charles Crane have both been charged with a number of weapon, harm and wounding charges.
When they arrived, the other co-accused, Mr Crane, walked toward two men, believed to be brothers.
One of them was wearing a backpack filled with more than 3kg of marijuana, which Mr Cook said Mr Crane tried to grab.
Mr Cook said that as things escalated, a struggle ensued, prompting Mr Kennedy to get out of the car and point the rifle at the men and demand they give them the drugs.
When Fagan saw one of the brothers' taser Mr Crane in the neck, he also got out of the car and pushed him away from the co-accused.
What followed was a chaotic blur of gun shots.
Mr Cook said Mr Kennedy fired the first bullet at the ground between the two brothers, one of whom begged "Please don't shoot us, please don't shoot us!"
Another two shots were then fired, one between one of the men's feet and the other into some gravel which ricocheted and pierced his skin.
Mr Cook said the final bullet wedged itself in the other brother's leg, resulting in emergency surgery and the victim to be airlifted to Brisbane two days later.
As both parties retreated to their respective cars, Fagan left his hat, with his name written on it, behind.
The court heard how Fagan's first statement to police did not provide an honest account and consisted of him lying and telling them he had been fishing at Burnett Heads with his two children and partner at the time of the shooting; another claim which was circulated about this time was that Mr Crane had been tasered while whipper snipping.
But one week later, Fagan gave his second statement to police and came clean. The following day his matters were listed for sentence.
"That's very very rare Your Honour," Mr Cook told Judge Rosengren.
"(It's) a matter for which he should receive ... discount."
Defence barrister Callan Cassidy said his client had a relatively limited history and wanted the opportunity to maximise his potential via rehabilitation. "He never expected to be imprisoned in his life," he said, adding Fagan had a full-time job he'd been offered to take up upon his release from custody.
Both Mr Cook and Judge Rosengren agreed Fagan's involvement in the botched theft and subsequent shooting was "passive" and that he was by no means the principal offender.
However, Mr Cook drew on Australia's strict gun laws and the dangers firearms posed to the community, saying Fagan had gone to the scene knowing there was an intention to steal and knowing there was a weapon present. The court heard the minimum penalty for possessing a weapon is nine months in prison. The maximum is two years.
Judge Rosengren said the incident was about "as stupid as it comes" and had had a devastating effect on many people. "It's just terrible," she said. She told the father-of-two she genuinely hoped he now realised the danger of drugs and that he "stays away from them".
"They have absolutely disastrous effects ... And tragically responsible for ruining many young lives," she said.
More than five of Fagan's family members were in court to support him.
"It's not too late ... You are so lucky to have so much support around you," Judge Rosengren said.
"There is no one that wants you to fail."
For the grievous bodily harm charge, Fagan was sentenced to four years in prison suspended after one year from the date he was placed in custody (April 18, 2018).
He was given three years prison with parole release after one year (on April 18, 2019) for the wounding and nine months for the possession of a category A rifle.
All sentences are to run concurrently.