A Griffith man will remain behind bars for more than one year without parole after being caught several times by police driving while disqualified, drug possession, as well as leading them on a dangerous pursuit to avoid capture.
Mark Leonard O'Brien, 31, appeared in Griffith Local Court on Thursday charged with four counts of driving while disqualified, possessing drugs, and a police pursuit charge.
O'Brien was pulled over on March 29 and was found driving while disqualified. The next day, he was charged again for driving while disqualified. On May 25, he was searched by police who found 1.98 grams of 'ice', for which he was granted bail.
On June 10 he lead police on a "dangerous" chase through Banna, Blumer, McKay Avenues and Ebert Street at about 3.45pm.
It was a religious centre, with no music other than religious songs played, which caused him great distress.Olivia Harris
His legal representative Olivia Harris argued there was nothing aggravating about the features of the first two charges apart from the fact he was already on a bond for another offence.
While noting prison time was a given, she asked for special consideration to be given to his existing grief and drug issues. She said the loss of his father had significant impacts through grief, where he had taken up drugs.
During the three months in custody leading up to sentencing, O'Brien had a month's stint in a Palm Beach rehabilitation centre to address his drug issues, however could not continue.
"He found it most difficult, as the first month he was not allowed any communication with friends or family, no smoking, no gym time - which he considers important for his mental health," Ms Harris explained.
"It was a religious centre, with no music other than religious songs played, which caused him great distress."
Magistrate Boulos conceded the first two disqualified driving charges were at the low end of objective seriousness, yet argued the pursuit was "the most serious of all".
"It was aggravated by the speed - up to 140km an hour, crossing double lines, driving through a red light - the manner, time, there was a real and potential danger to the public," she said.
"His record is appalling, and I am disinclined to give him any leniency... His mother has [previously] gone to extreme lengths to support him, selling a business to put him into rehab... which he knew was a religious centre when he entered."
O'Brien received an aggregate sentence for two and a half years with a non-parole period for 18 months, backdated to June 23.
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