Home invasion sentence 'not to be a precedent' says judge
A GYMPIE District Court judge says "exceptional circumstances" led to her one-off compassionate sentence for a couple involved in a violent home invasion at Kilkivan.
Before the court were young grandmother, Kyree Pithouse, 35 and her partner Kaynben Lee James Yule, 22 now and 21 at the time of the offence.
The court was told Pithouse was dedicated to her family and had worked hard to cope with becoming a mother at 15. Her son had become a father three and a half months ago.
The prosecutor Ron Swanwick said the home invasion victim was a neighbour suspected by Pithouse of "acting strangely towards her, including taking photographs of her residence.
The couple had been at the Kilkivan Hotel for a travelling boxing show and had received a phone call complaining about the neighbour.
They became angry and entered the man's home when he opened the door for them.
He had tried to explain his actions but Yule had punched him in the face three times and Pithouse once, causing bruising and a loosened tooth which cost $394 to fix.
Pithouse had also taken the neighbour's phone to check it for photographs, damaging it in the process.
"They over-reacted to a perceived danger, resulting in a home invasion vigilante incident," Mr Swanwick said.
"Invading the sanctity of a person's home is always taken seriously and there were injuries.
"The motives, though misguided, were not malicious, but it was a vigilante self-help sort of reaction to a perceived danger."
Pithouse's legal representative told the court Pithouse had left Tasmania "after a long process of family members dying or moving away."
Her father had committed suicide in the family home when she was 13.The father of her first child had moved to Townsville and died some years ago.
She now had two more children and had found a supportive family environment with Yule and his family.
Pithouse had complained of her concerns to her landlord and was angered when called at the hotel, at a time when she was affected by alcohol.
It was more a misunderstanding than vigilantism.
Yule's defender said Yule shared Pithouse's concerns and was not a drinker normally or a violent person.
It was not a prolonged or armed attack.
Pithouse and Yule pleaded guilty to entering and committing an offence on March 5 last year and Pithouse also pleaded guilty to wilful damage of the phone.
Judge Leanne Clare said burglary with an assault was "always a serious offence" and the fact that this was "at the lower end of the scale" was not to trivialise the matter.
"No doubt it was frightening (for the neighbour) but there was genuine concern about his behaviour (as it was perceived).
"He was not surprisingly worried you would come back and hurt him again"Such drunken confrontations must be discouraged or society would collapse and we would have the wild west.
"I accept that for both of you violence is out of character."
"The level of your offending ought to be sentenced by imprisonment but it can be suspended because you are not a continuing threat to the community.
"There were exceptional circumstances and (your sentence) should not be used as a benchmark in other cases."
She sentenced Pithouse to six months and Yule to eight months jail, suspended immediately for 12 months in both cases and ordered compensation for the tooth injury.