Curra vigilante raid leads to tyre iron threat
A DRUNKEN attempt to collect a $100 debt cost $2300 in fines and $1800 in compensation after a violent vigilante home invasion, in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday.
The court was told a woman was threatened with a tyre iron, property was damaged and a man seriously assaulted during the two-man debt collection raid at Curra on April 21.
"At least I didn't kill anyone, driving drunk," Michael Lee Grant, 35, of Wallu, told magistrate M Baldwin after she fined him $2300, ordered compensation of $1800 and jailed him for three months, with immediate parole, in addition to two suspended sentences.
Grant pleaded guilty to wilfully damaging private and police property, entering a dwelling and assault, driving under the influence of liquor and two counts of failing to supply breath for analysis (once at the roadside and once at Gympie police station).
The court was told Grant consumed a bottle of scotch before embarking on the raid, in which he drove through a locked steel gate, damaged a house door, and punched the male resident and put him in a headlock, causing bruising and pain, while his brother brandished a tyre iron at the man's wife.
He also pleaded guilty to causing $600 damage to the padding of the door of the Gympie watchhouse violent offender cell.
Police called for the court to send a clear message that "the community won't tolerate this type of vigilante debt collecting endeavour, where people in their own home are intimidated and injured.
"Children were present and witnessed it," the police prosecutor said. "Property was damaged and people injured," she said.
Grant's solicitor told the court Grant had consumed a bottle of scotch and was "quite intoxicated."
"What a mess you've created here," Mrs Baldwin said.
"I can't believe someone so drunk would drive."
She fined Grant a total of $2300, and ordered $1200 compensation to the victim of the violence and restitution of $600 for the gate and watchhouse door.
She also sentenced Grant to three months' jail with immediate parole, in addition to separate sentences of two months (suspended for 12 months) and one month (suspended for six months).