‘DIRTY NEEDLE’: Dad jailed for wounding, robbing cabbies
A court has heard how a young man threatened two taxi drivers with violence, holding a needle to one driver's neck and stabbing another.
Joshua Dean Fuller, 21, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg District Court on Monday to a number of offences including unlawful wounding and armed robbery.
The court heard Fuller called a taxi in to take him from a hotel in Bargara to a Bundaberg address in May last year.
When the cab arrived at Fuller's destination there was a dispute regarding the fare, with the driver refusing to open to boot to the defendant's belongings until the fee was paid.
The victim called police but Fuller hung up the call.
Fuller eventually got some money to pay the fare from inside the home and paid the victim before getting back into the front seat armed with a knife.
Fuller told the driver he was going to stab him and proceeded to do so, cutting the victim's middle finger.
The victim received treatment at Bundaberg Hospital, with Fuller later identified in a photoboard interview with police.
Later in August that same year Fuller and another person called a taxi to take them somewhere in Bundaberg.
When the taxi arrived at the destination, Fuller's friend got out of the taxi while the defendant stayed behind.
Fuller then held what he claimed to be a dirty needle to the victim's neck and demanded money.
He threatened to stab the victim with the needle.
The victim's hand was pricked by the needle as he went to move his hands towards his neck in defence.
The victim gave Fuller $100.
Fuller was arrested by police two hours later where they found him with the money as well as ice, marijuana and a pipe for smoking drugs.
The victim was treated by paramedics and underwent blood testing but no injuries were noted.
When Fuller was interviewed by police he made partial admissions but denied wielding the needle or injuring the victim in any way.
Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker told the court Fuller had been in custody for 212 days since.
Ms Baker said the offending represented "a concerning pattern" of armed violence targeting vulnerable taxi drivers late at night.
"They work alone, they work late hours, they are vulnerable," she said.
"The defendant demonstrated not only a willingness to brandish weapons, but to use them."
Fuller's barrister Callan Cassidy told the court his client had "promising prospects" of rehabilitation.
By way of background, Mr Cassidy told the court Fuller had never met his birth father and that his client's mother was a drug user in his "formative years".
Mr Cassidy said his client's family was in and out of domestic violence shelters while he was growing up, with Fuller having to take on responsibilities to help look after his younger siblings.
He told the court before the offending happened Fuller's relationship with his former partner had broken down and that he "responded in the same way his mother and partners" did by using drugs and alcohol.
Mr Cassidy said his client wanted to be a "positive influence" on the lives of his two young children and had been drug free while in custody.
He said Fuller hoped to move to the Northern Territory to be with his mother when released from jail.
Judge Vicki Loury took into account Fuller's plea came at an early opportunity and accepted his plea demonstrated remorse.
However, Judge Loury said seven months was a long time for a man of his age to be in custody and warned Fuller that he was "sentencing" his young children to the same life if his drug use continued.
She described the wounding offence as "gratuitous".
"You must realise Mr Fuller if you continue using drugs that you are sentencing your children to the same life that you have had. One where they don't know their father," she said.
"A men's prison is no place for a child to have to visit their father."
Judge Loury also took into account Fuller had a limited criminal history.
Fuller was sentenced to three years imprisonment with a parole release in May.
212 days of presentence custody was declared as time already served.