Another chance for teen 'too scared' to attend court
A 19-year-old who failed to appear in court because he was "too scared" to go outside during the coronavirus pandemic has been given one last chance to avoid jail.
Seth Alexander Pannell pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Monday to three counts of failing to appear and one count of wilful damage as well as possessing dangerous drugs and utensils or pipes for use.
Police prosecutor Stephen Potter told the court Pannell had failed to appear on three occasions in April and March, one of which he said was because he was too scared to go outside because of COVID-19 pandemic.
The three counts of failure to appear were in breach of a 12-month suspended sentence that was given to Pannell for a previous matter.
Duty lawyer Lachlan Ygoa-McKeown said Pannell described the offences as a "miscommunication" as he believed COVID-19 restrictions meant he did not have to appear.
"He understood … that there were no appearances and that everything was effectively being done on the phone or adjourned," he said.
"He accepts that it's his responsibility to attend court and that it's his responsibility to follow these things up, but he did have this miscommunication."
Mr Ygoa-McKeown said the teenager had continued to report, stayed in contact and even handed himself in after realising there was a warrant out for his arrest.
Given the circumstances of the offences Mr Ygoa-McKeown asked magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist to extend the operational period rather than activating the suspended sentence.
"It's in my respectful submission your honour would prefer an option that your honour would find it is unjust to activate the whole of the suspended sentence in the particular circumstances of this matter …," he said.
Mr Potter said Pannell was also charged with drug offences after police raided a Maroochydore home on March 12.
He said police found 2g of "green leafy material" and a pipe.
On November 26, 2019, Pannell also unlawfully destroyed property including walls, doors, locks and air vents at a Sippy Downs location.
Mr Ygoa-McKeown suggested fines were an appropriate punishment for the wilful damage and drug offences and asked for no conviction be recorded.
Pannell was convicted and fined $400 for the wilful damage and drug offences and was ordered to pay $1000 restitution for the damage caused.
The operational period of Pannell's suspended sentence was extended by three months and he was fined $300 for each of the of the failure to appear charges.