Paul Hamilton Represents Man Facing Firearms & Drug Offences

A FORMER Mackay man who was jailed for accidentally shooting his girlfriend in the knee, was released from prison and then caught with meth at Brisbane’s G20 has been given a second chance.

Robert John Birch, who has spent much of his life in Mackay, stood before a Brisbane District Court judge on Monday for breaching a suspended jail sentence but walked away without handcuffs after showing he had rehabilitated from drugs.

The court heard he was sentenced to two and a half years jail in September 2013 after he negligently used a sawn-off shotgun and accidentally shot his girlfriend in the knee. The girlfriend’s brother was also injured in the foot.

The court heard on Monday that drugs played a role in Birch’s offending.

Birch was required to serve six months in jail with the remaining time suspended, meaning he would be jailed if he committed another offence.

Then in November last year he was caught in Brisbane during the G20 summit with about 2g of meth and a glass pipe.

“It’s pretty silly to be carrying drugs around in the G20 I would have thought,” Judge Paul Smith said at court on Monday.

In handing down his sentence, Justice Smith said references showed Birch had been working hard since being released from jail and had been off drugs for at least six months – since his arrest in November.

“In light of the fact there has been no reversion to offences of violence and the fact you’re working hard, you seem to be rehabilitating yourself in more recent times,” he told Birch.

“In my view it would be unjust to activate the whole or indeed any part of the suspended imprisonment.”

He extended Birch’s suspended sentence for another six months, taking his original sentence to three years.

“If you come back to court again for a breach, particularly involving drugs, I’d expect you to have a hard time talking the judge out of sentencing you to actual imprisonment.”

Before Birch walked out the doors, Justice Smith asked: “Mr Birch, we won’t see you again will we?”

“No sir,” he replied.

Story By: Pamela Frost | Mackay Daily Mercury | 26th May 2015

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