Birthday spree lands man in jail

A MAN who celebrated his 22nd birthday by going on a drunken rampage and assaulting a 15-year-old cinema clerk with a fire extinguisher was jailed for four months yesterday in Warwick Magistrates Court.

Michael John Woods of Warwick pleaded guilty to a total of six offences including assault, stealing and wilful damage, as well as two drug charges.

Already on a suspended sentence, this was invoked and Woods was sentenced to 13 months, four of which will be served in prison with the remaining nine to be served on parole.

Woods had been celebrating his birthday and started drinking early on the afternoon of May 15.

Police Prosecutor Sergeant Ken Wiggan told the court Woods stole a fire extinguisher from the Criterion Hotel in Warwick before entering Warwick Twin Cinema and spraying the 15-year-old kiosk attendant in the face, temporarily blinding him.

The youth had breathing difficulties and was taken to hospital with chest pains following the attack.

Woods then fled from the cinema.

On May 25 police went to Woods' home and discovered a jacket that had been identified as the jacket of the attacker. Police also retrieved other items of clothing identified by video surveillance and witnesses. While at the address police also discovered cannabis and drug paraphernalia.

Woods told police he could not remember his whereabouts on the night in question because he was too drunk.

Sgt Wiggan said the defendant had significant drug history and had previously breached probation. He added that on Woods' previous birthday he had committed a similar offence.

He said the defendant had been given the opportunity to stay in the community after receiving a suspended sentence on September 15, 2009 and he asked the Magistrate to invoke this suspended sentence.

Defence solicitor Carl Settgast said Woods had since contacted the Criterion Hotel to apologise for stealing the extinguisher and he would have contacted the other parties but was not permitted to do so.

He said it was a prank that went very wrong.

“He didn't realise it was powder in the extinguisher until after he sprayed it,” Mr Settgast added.

“Thankfully the young chap didn't suffer any serious injuries, and one can only presume he made a quick recovery.”

He said Woods was in secure employment but conceded the suspended sentence would have to be invoked.

Magistrate Anne Thacker said she took into account the guilty plea and that the matter did not have to go before a district court, but said the fact he attacked such a young person, who was just going about his daily work, played heavily on her mind.

She said that it was a stroke of luck more people were not present and injured in the unprovoked attack and expressed her disapproval of the wilful damage of the food products at the cinema.

“I want to send a stern message to the community – pranks involving violence against people are not tolerated.”

She activated his suspended sentence of four months, which means he will spend four months in prison and nine months on parole, during which he will have to attend drug-and-alcohol and anger management as his paroleofficer deems necessary.

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