Bodhi James Barry Johnson, 24, was sentenced to 15 months’ jail for unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
Bodhi James Barry Johnson, 24, was sentenced to 15 months’ jail for unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Best mate’s death no deterrent for ‘brazen’ fugitive

An inmate, jailed after killing his best mate in a car crash, escaped from prison and embarked on a two-day car-stealing frenzy.

Bodhi James Barry Johnson had been returned to jail on January 9 last year after he breached his parole for driving causing the death of his 22-year-old best friend in 2016.

The Townsville District Court heard Johnson escaped the Townsville Correctional Centre low-security men's farm on October 7 last year.

The court heard that four days later, on October 11, Johnson stole a man's Commodore and on October 13 he broke into ABC Towing, stealing a Jeep.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Larry told the court Johnson's two-day crime spree as a fugitive was "brazen".

Bodhi James Barry Johnson being arrested after nearly a week on the run.
Bodhi James Barry Johnson being arrested after nearly a week on the run.

"On one occasion, when he was unlawfully driving, the accused saw police and drove through stationary cars at the traffic lights and travelled through a red light, and he was disqualified from driving at that time," he said.

The court heard Johnson was found by police on the afternoon of October 13 hiding in a backyard and was returned to custody.

Johnson pleaded guilty to 11 charges including escape by persons in lawful custody and two counts of unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

A psychiatrist's report presented to the court by defence barrister Kelly Stone outlined the mental illnesses Johnson had been diagnosed with including paranoia, auditory hallucinations and seeing a shadowy figure he believed to be a demon.

Mr Stone said Johnson used drugs to "deal with his mental health issues while on the run".

"While he had to be recaptured, which caused trouble for police … there was no violence or weapons, he just walked away," he said.

Bodhi James Barry Johnson with police.
Bodhi James Barry Johnson with police.

"The escape was two months before the last parole date, which is an indication of the extent of his desperation."

Johnson appeared via video link from Wolston Correctional Centre wearing a hand brace with Mr Stone saying he had recently cut the tendons in his left hand and was unable to move his fingers.

Judge Gregory Lynham told Johnson he was horrified he had gotten behind the wheel of a car.

"I would have thought being in an experience where your best friend was killed that you would never involve yourself in driving a car erratically again," he said.

"So you need to get your act together, Mr Johnson, or you can expect to spend your life in and out of jail."

Judge Lynham took into account the 10 months Johnson had spent in custody and sentenced him to 15 months' jail.

A parole eligibility release date was set for January 13 next year.

He was disqualified from driving for two years.

Originally published as Best mate's death no deterrent for 'brazen' fugitive



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