Woman's terror as car-jackers wield hammer
A GOOD Samaritan stopped at the scene of a crash only to be car-jacked by three men, one of whom was wielding a hammer.
The trio had been riding in a stolen car at 5.30am when it slammed into the rear of a truck and spun.
They first tried to steal a car off a man who stopped to help, but the man drove off.
The thugs then turned their attention to a woman who had stopped nearby.
The woman refused to hand over her keys and threw them into the middle of the Bruce Hwy in the hope no one would run into the traffic to retrieve them.
Undeterred, one of the thieves braved the highway traffic to retrieve the keys and steal the woman's car.
In the Crown prosecution case before Ipswich District Court, Toowoomba men Mark Ronald Cullen, 21, Trent David Iacono, 20, and Lane Michael Callaghan, 20, pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a motor vehicle in July 2017; demanding a man's car with menaces (making threats if demands not complied with) at Caboolture on July 17, 2017; attempted unlawful use of a motor vehicle; and unlawful use of a motor vehicle. Callaghan also pleaded guilty to being in possession of marijuana at Caboolture. Both Callaghan and Iacono pleaded guilty to stealing fuel from a Caltex service station in Toowoomba.
Crown prosecutor Paul Bannister said the female victim of the car-jacking had written an insightful victim impact statement to the court (see below).
The men's legal team commented at the quality and insight shown by the woman, and the positive advice she gave the men to improve and get on with their lives.
Mr Bannister said that while still youthful what they did was serious, confronting and frightening for the woman.
He said Iacono was the main instigator.
It caused the victim apprehension because they had the address and keys to her home where her young daughter was.
Judge Dennis Lynch QC said Cullen had been driving when the stolen car crashed into a truck.
It was Iacono who pulled a hammer out of a backpack and told a man that he was taking his car. Judge Lynch found Iacono's co-offenders were all complicit and equally involved in what took place.
It was Iacono who demanded the woman's car keys.
Callaghan was on probation for burglary and drug offences at the time, while Cullen was on a suspended sentence for break and enter, and Iacono had prior unlawful use, dishonesty and drug offences.
Defence barrister Ben Power said Callaghan wanted to make a clean break after falling in with a bad group at Toowoomba. Defence barrister Stephen Kissick said Cullen had not been in jail before and "his lifestyle has come home to him and he's taken a hard look at himself".
"He turned 21 in jail," Mr Kissick said.
"He acknowledges cannabis and methylamphetamine smoking and injecting."
Defence barrister Jessica Goldie said Iacono had dropped out of school while smoking marijuana and was using methylamphetamine by 17.
He had lost his job working on the construction of the Second Range Crossing and resorted to again using drugs.
Ms Goldie said Iacono had been assaulted in jail.
Judge Lynch said the men's conduct was completely unacceptable.
"Joy-riding around in stolen cars having the time of your life, and taking drugs has a devastating effect on people," he said.
"Three thugs threatened her and stole her car.
"You had the keys to her home and she was worried about her daughter at home."
Judge Lynch said then men's behaviour toward people who stopped to help them after crashing in the stolen car was appalling.
All three had already spent 147 days in jail.
Callaghan was sentenced to 18 months jail (and lesser terms), and given immediate parole release.
Cullen was sentenced to jail terms of 12 months, and two concurrent terms of six months. His time in custody could not be declared but taken into account. He was given parole but not released as he has other matters still before a Toowoomba court.
Iacono was sentenced to jail terms of 12 months, and two of six months each. His time in custody was taken into account but not declared.
He was given parole but not released as he faces other charges.
Victim Impact Statement
Victim Christine D. forgives but tells thieves "YOU HAD CHOICES…
You did not scare me when you demanded my car. But you did upset me when I saw my car driven off as the car held so many memories.
What made me feel absolute terror was the fact I had medication in the car with my name and address on it.
You had my car keys, my house keys and my daughter was at home unaware.
I realised the danger she could be in.
There has been a lot in my life I have survived. But I never have committed a crime or deliberately hurt or deprived anybody of their rights.
You three felt that for whatever reason you had the right to commit many offences but you had choices.
No matter what you feel that you were deprived of growing up you had the choices to work or volunteer and be productive members of our society.
Not everyone has a happy violence-free, drug, alcohol free family or upbringing but that does not preclude anyone from making the right decisions to improve their life, when they are in control of their life.
What you did was selfish, disrespectful and disturbing.
Please be kind to yourselves and take the opportunity to improve your job prospects, and the way that you think of yourselves.
You are not bad young men, we are all equal.
You just need to make the right decisions inside the boundaries and laws of society before you yourselves become victims of something that you can never return from.
Remember life goes on while you are locked away. You will miss celebrations, opportunities, comfort, choices and freedom.
I wish you all well and hope you can learn from this situation you put yourselves in. And please do not give up on the hopes and dreams you might once have.
We all make mistakes and have regrets but you still have the time and opportunity while locked away to learn self-discipline and a trade or skills you can bring back to society and to continue to make a living from."