June 28, 2012
A 30-year-old Nanango man who used drugs after suffering an horrific work accident was sentenced to 10 months’ jail after he pleaded guilty in Kingaroy Magistrates’ Court today to a total of 25 charges.
William Dennis Clark faced 14 drug counts (including possessing cannabis and methylamphetamine, and producing cannabis), eight firearms charges plus dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, contravening a police direction and possessing tainted property.
Police Prosecutor Sgt Wayne Bushell said a police search of Clark’s Nanango property in March this year found well-tended marijuana plants ranging in height from 0.5m to 1m tall, a brown-coloured crystalline substance stored in clipseal bags in a safe, and six home-made .22 calibre pistols plus ammunition.
Sgt Bushell said the pistols had been tested and were capable of firing a live round.
Clark told police they belonged to a friend and he was just storing them.
The dangerous operation of a vehicle charge stemmed from an incident in Fitzroy Street, Nanango, on April 20 when Clark was seen revving a black Commodore, which spun sideways before speeding off. This occurred at 1:15pm in the main street.
A second police search of Clark’s property, this time on June 1, found two hypodermic needles, used bongs, a set of scales and a rifle magazine.
The offences occurred while Clark was on a suspended sentence. He had been sentenced to four months’ jail for drugs offences – wholly suspended for two years – on June 30, 2010 in Nanango Magistrates’ Court.
Sgt Bushell said the firearms were of particular concern to police as nothing other than a sinister conclusion could be made.
Defence solicitor Adam Magill, for Clark, said his client was a mechanical engineer, and had a wife, three children and a mortgage.
He had two predominant times during his life when he had offended … during 2004-05 and during recent times. The first period occurred after he lost his brother in a car crash “and sought solace in drugs”.
Then in 2010, Clark suffered an horrific work injury, a compound fracture of his femur. Then when a titanium plate which had been inserted into the joint snapped, Clark was left wheelchair bound and totally incapacitated for some time. Again he turned to drug use.
“He is placing himself before the court as someone requiring help rather than jail,” Mr Magill said.
“The drugs at the premises were for personal use.”
Mr Magill said the offending behaviour all stemmed back to Clark’s drug use, and the crowd in which he was running associated with that drug use.
Magistrate Mark Bucknall said Clark had “considerably upped the ante” on his previous criminal history.
He expressed concern that he had facilitated someone else having possession of the firearms.
Mr Bucknall said the sentence must punish Clark justly, provide an opportunity for rehabilitation, be a deterrent to other people in the community, denounce the offending conduct and protect the community.
However he did accept that Clark had saved court resources by pleading guilty.
On the charge of contravening a police direction, Clark was convicted with no further penalty. For dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, he was disqualified from driving for nine months.
On the remaining charges, Mr Bucknall imposed one penalty: 10 months’ jail with a court-ordered parole release date of October 25, 2012.
On the breach of a suspended sentence, Clark was ordered to serve the outstanding four months’ jail, with the same parole release date.
As he was led from court, Clark hugged his wife who was crying in the public gallery.
As Clark left the court, his wife Selene Amber McLachlan was called to face the Magistrate.
McLachlan pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing dangerous drugs, ie three clipseal bags containing methylamphetamine found in a locked safe at her Nanango home by police on March 21 this year.
Police Prosecutor Sgt Wayne Bushell said McLachlan had claimed ownership of the drugs during the police search.
Defence solicitor Adam Magill said McLachlan had no previous criminal history.
Magistrate Bucknall said methylamphetamine was an insidious substance that seemed to wreak havoc on people who used it.
He fined McLachlan $300 with no conviction recorded.