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A bunch of drunks

Thursday, 5th April, 2012

The people of the Far West drank too much and it was about time they took “a good hard look” at themselves, a District Court judge said yesterday.

Judge Robyn Tupman gave her observations at the end of the court’s two-week sittings during which, she said, nearly every case that came before her involved people who had got drunk and done something stupid and violent.

The last two cases on yesterday’s court list were those of a Wilcannia man who bashed his de facto wife after getting drunk at a funeral and two Broken Hill men who broke into a man’s house and demanded money from him after drinking a carton of beer and a bottle of spirits.

The most serious offences that came before the court most often involved men who had become “extremely intoxicated” and assaulted their wives or girlfriends, the judge said.

“There is an extraordinarily high level of alcohol-fulled domestic violence in this community among both black and white people in Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Dareton, Wentworth and all the other areas that come to this court,” Judge Tupman said.

“The community at large should take a long hard look at themselves and ask what they can do to stop this behaviour.”

In the Wilcannia case, Anthony Dutton (27) lodged an appeal to have his jail term reduced and his parole extended so that he could book himself into an alcohol rehabilitation centre.

Mr Dutton was sentenced in the Wilcannia court to 21 months’ jail on a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Judge Tupman said he had bashed his partner as they were walking home from a funeral last year and that it was lucky for him that he had not been charged with a more serious offence given the savagery of the assault.

He had punched her to the ground, kicked her when she was down and then dragged her along the road “like some drunken, deranged caveman,” the judge said.

The woman suffered lacerations to her arms, legs and back, bruising to her head and a deep laceration to her forehead that required six stitches. 

Judge Tupman granted Mr Dutton’s appeal saying that a long term in a live-in rehabilitation centre might be the last chance he had to free himself from an addiction to alcohol that had contributed to his long record of committing acts of violence.

In the last matter before the court yesterday, Judge Tupman sentenced two men to suspended jail terms for breaking into a house in Brookfield Avenue in July last year and demanding $370 dollars from the owner.

Chad Anthony Stevens (24) and Adam Savich (20) were both “very drunk” when they went to into the bedroom of the house about 2.15am and threatened the man with violence unless he handed over the money which they claimed was owned to a friend of theirs, the judge said.

They retreated when the man confronted them and left the house but returned and broke the front door before fleeing and making threats as they went, she said. 

Police charged them with aggravated breaking and entering and they pleaded guilty.

“Almost every offence in this court, bar two or three, have been committed by people who were very drunk, Judge Tupman said.

“These two young men between then drank a bottle of spirits and a case of beer in a few hours.”

She said she accepted that their contrition and remorse was genuine and that each had made steps to cut back on their excessive drinking.

Stevens had a short criminal record and Savich had no criminal history at all, she said, and their chances of rehabilitation were good.

The judge sentenced Stevens to 22 months’ jail and Savich to 24 but wholly suspended the sentences so that each will serve a good behaviour bond for the same length of time.

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