Magistrate: ‘I can’t punish you enough’

GYMPIE Magistrate Maxine Baldwin yesterday declined to sentence Townsville prison escapee Craig Darren Jackson on the grounds that she is not empowered to punish him enough.

Jackson, 32, was one of three men who fled police in a stolen car, starting a 24-hour drama which ended at Chatsworth, on Gympie's north side, on New Year's Eve.

Jackson had pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, escaping lawful custody, evading a taxi fare and multiple counts of failing to stop a motor vehicle when required by police.

Mrs Baldwin said Jackson's previous criminal history meant his offence would probably warrant a sentence of more than the three-year maximum she could impose.

She said Jackson had already been sentenced to three years jail for a previous offence of unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

She told him he would receive a similar sentence, if not more, in addition to the escaping lawful custody charge.

She said the escaping offence carried a mandatory cumulative sentence, whereas other sentences could be served concurrently.

The two other escapees, Claude William Cobbo and Jacob Ben Allen, both 26, had been previously dealt with after pleading guilty to similar charges.

Earlier court sittings had been told the three escaped over a low fence at the low security prison at Stuart, near Townsville.

High on the drug ice, they had set out to buy cigarettes from the corner store and were found to be missing after a head count at 11.30pm on December 30.

Cobbo had less than a month left to serve of a six-year sentence and Allen had 10 days remaining.

When they realised they had stayed out too long, they continued on, crossing swamps and convincing an unknown woman to call a taxi.

Just after midnight, they ran from the taxi without paying and later hitched a lift to Rockhampton, on the first leg of an 1185km pursuit down the Bruce Hwy.

The car was spotted south of Mackay at 8.40am and three hours later at Marlborough, where a police chase was discontinued when the car hit speeds of 140kmh.

Mrs Baldwin described Cobbo and Allen's case as "one of the saddest I've had to deal with".

She said the offences were "sheer stupidity" and a threat to public safety.

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