Teen sentenced after running down police officer
A YOUTH behind the wheel of a stolen Volvo that slammed into Goodna police officer Peter McAulay will serve 18 months locked up in a youth detention centre.
A Judge in Ipswich Children's Court said the impact had "catastrophic" and life-changing consequences for the grievously injured Constable McAulay.
"He was almost fatally injured. It was miraculous that he survived," Judge Dennis Lynch QC said.
On a charge of doing a malicious act with intent at Booval on September 27 last year, Judge Lynch sentenced the youth, now aged 17, to three years in a youth detention centre, ordering that he serve half of the sentence after finding special circumstances did exist for him not to serve a minimum 75 per cent.
Given the gravity of what he did, Judge Lynch recorded a conviction against the teen.
The Judge and Crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis accepted he did not deliberately hit Constable McAulay.
Instead, just after 5am that day when the then 16-year-old was evading police he swerved to avoid stingers laid on Brisbane Rd by Const McAulay.
The Volvo then struck the officer.
Judge Lynch said the although the youth first denied the offence, and even blamed a female passenger, he had since shown genuine remorse for his crimes.
There was no evidence found by police investigators that he braked heavily before the impact.
The Volvo's systems went in 'limp mode' and ended up hitting a tree. It was written-off at a value of $41,600.
The youth pleaded guilty to doing the malicious act, and unlawful use of a stolen car and to unrelated charges of robbery and burglary he committed at Sunnybank Hills in May 2018.
In that offence he was spotted with a mate stealing a laptop computer and iPads from a house.
He was released on bail and went on to commit the offence that came very close to ending the life of 24-year-old Const McAulay.
The Volvo was reported stolen on September 24 and seen by police being driven in Goodna in following days.
Judge Lynch said the youth applied the brakes one second prior to impact with Const McAulay.
The youth fled on foot, found by police one kilometre away.
Judge Lynch said Crown evidence was an approaching driver would have been able to see the officer from 87m away, and the stingers visible from 27m.
"The Crown accepts you did not deliberately drive into the officer," Judge Lynch said.
"I accept you were avoiding the stingers and swerved left.
"Saw him shortly before impact. And applied the brake too late to avoid impact."
Judge Lynch then detailed the extensive and awful injuries suffered by Const McAulay, and the ongoing surgeries his traumatised body, head and brain has undergone.
The impacts on his life and career have been catastrophic and he will be left with permanent disability.
The affects have flowed on to his caring family, friends and girlfriend, she too a serving police officer.
"The malicious act with intent was very serious conduct that was deliberate and done to avoid arrest," he said.
"It created significant danger. Sadly it was realised in officer Peter McAulay suffering severe injuries with life-long consequences.
"The impact for Constable McAulay has been catastrophic."
Judge Lynch spoke about the youth's personal circumstances, saying he'd witnessed and been a victim of physical abuse in his family from a step-father.
How he abandoned school after growing conflict with teachers and other students, becoming more aggressive during 2016.
In a Youth Justice report before the court the youth spoke of using cannabis at the age of 12 and moving on to methamphetamine at 15.
"He says he was under the influence of a drug at the time of the offence, and a daily user," Judge Lynch said.
"The report writer states this use was a coping mechanism for stress."
The report also noted the youth's exposure to extreme behaviour (in his family) saying this impacted on his emotional and social development.
Judge Lynch said the youth had previously tried to blame the police officer for what occurred. This was in a letter he wrote to an associate (then in jail) soon after, but now acknowledges his own actions as being stupid.
There were favourable reports before the court of the courses and education the youth had done while held in the juvenile detention centre.
And he now had shown some insight into his bad behaviour, his attitude noticeably changed for the better.
Judge Lynch said he found his remorse to be genuine.
He found special circumstances existed given his young age, no criminal history, genuine remorse, accepting responsibility, his efforts in rehabilitating himself, and reasons made in the report for what was behind his behaviour.
Given the impact and catastrophic consequences on the life of officer McAulay, Judge Lynch said a conviction must be recorded.
The youth received lesser penalties on the other offences.
In submission on penalty the Crown prosecutor had sought a five year sentence in a detention centre, with the youth to serve 75 percent.