How COVID-19 sparked man’s life of crime
A Queensland man created a "very real danger" as he wove in and out of traffic, ran lights and mounted a roundabout to pass cars during a dangerous police chase across Brisbane, a court has been told.
Tyre deflation devices had to be deployed to bring Kierin Charles Pitcher to a halt in Waterford West, near Logan, but he still persisted in fleeing from police after avoiding a collision.
It had only been a week after Pitcher, 25, had been sentenced in the Supreme Court for a failed attempt to smuggle illegal drugs into a Brisbane immigration detention centre in November 2019.
On April 1, he was sentenced to 23 months' jail for arranging with a friend to smuggle subutex into the Brisbane Immigration Transit and Accommodation centre at Pinkenba in 2019.
The attempt led to Pitcher swallowing the drugs and requiring emergency surgery.
Clad in prison greens, he pleaded guilty at Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday to 20 charges, spanning over a year until September 2020.
They included dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, possessing dangerous drugs, fraud, failing to comply with a COVID-19 direction and possessing drug utensils.
The court was told the most serious charge involved Pitcher leading police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car through Brisbane in September last year.
At the time, the young man was disqualified from driving and was on bail and serving a suspended sentence for separate offences.
A Polair helicopter tracked Pitcher as he increased speed, moving in and out of traffic.
Police prosecutor senior sergeant Sean Franklin said Pitcher created a "very real danger" to the public despite it being a very short chase.
Tyre deflation devices were deployed after he mounted the kerb of a roundabout to make an illegal right turn towards Waterford West.
Even after his joy ride ground to a half, Pitcher did not surrender and ran from police.
"It seems you narrowly avoided a collision … but you were prepared to drive around considerable obstacles and place other people at danger," the magistrate said.
"It's really fortunate no-one was injured, including yourself."
The court was told Pitcher was in possession of several stolen number plates when he was arrested.
Some of his other charges - spanning between September 2019 and November last year - included possessing dangerous drugs like GHB and buprenorphine, failing to properly dispose of a syringe, possessing stolen car keys and possessing drug utensils.
He was also charged in August 2020 with unlawfully using a rental car from Brisbane Airport and failing to comply with a COVID-19 health direction at Newmarket.
Pitcher's defence lawyer Trent Playford said his client had lived a law-abiding life but had fallen into drug use after losing his job due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Playford said Pitcher had been addicted to drugs since a young age and his abuse of opioids and ice underpinned much of his offending.
The magistrate sentenced him to 18 months prison.
He will be eligible for parole in June, the same time he becomes eligible for a Supreme Court sentence imposed last week.
Originally published as How COVID-19 sparked man's life of crime