Second decision on gun lighter

A SECOND magistrate granted bail to a man who was charged with carrying an exposed weapon in a public place after he took a rifle-shaped cigarette lighter into Bundaberg Hospital.

Staff locked down the hospital last Thursday after Brenton Adrian Michael Hodgson, 40, of Boundary Street in Bundaberg allegedly walked into a waiting room and told staff he was there for a rabies injection.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Robyn Shapcott told Bundaberg Magistrates Court yesterday Hodgson became “aggressive and belligerent” as he waited.

Although he did not threaten staff with the gun-shaped lighter, they noticed the object in a holster on his hip and took action.

“They went into lockdown ... and were so concerned they called Triple-0,” Sgt Shapcott said.

He was arrested by police outside the hospital and, on Friday, faced court for the first time, where he was denied bail.

But yesterday Magistrate Jennifer Batts decided to hear the bail application again because Hodgson was unrepresented during the first bail hearing.

“I myself have every faith in (Magistrate John Smith) making the best decision he could make on the day,” she said.

“It is of significant concern there was not a duty lawyer made available for that day, as one certainly could have expected.”

Lawyer Thomas Bray told the court Hodgson suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome and that his mother, who worked as a social worker, would have regular contact with her son to help him comply with bail conditions.

Magistrate Batts granted Hodgson’s bail, with conditions, and adjourned his case until January 22.

It is legal to sell a gun-shaped lighter, but against the law to use it in a public place in a way that causes fear and alarm, according to police.

Bundaberg Police Senior Constable John Sajko’s comments followed the arrest of Hodgson, who claimed he bought the lighter in a camping and outdoors store in the city.

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