Man sentenced for attack on firefighter
THEY were here to help fight raging fires, but on their last night in Bundaberg two Western Australian firefighters were the victims of an "alarming episode of random violence".
On Wednesday, their attacker Craig Francis George Yow-Yeh was sentenced in Bundaberg District Court.
Yow-Yeh, 32, pleaded guilty to three indictable offences including assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, wilful damage and burglary with common assault.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting and obstructing police and wilful damage of police property.
Crown prosecutor Erin Kelly told the court on the night of September 17 last year, a male firefighter had returned to his room after dinner when Yow-Yeh banged on his door.
When the man opened the door, Yow-Yeh was standing there not wearing a shirt holding a knife and a bottle of alcohol and said 'I'll f--king kill you'.
Yow-Yeh swung the knife at the face of the man who held up his hands to block the attack.
The blade caused lacerations to the man's neck and thumb who pushed Yow-Yeh back and went back inside his room to call police.
Yow-Yeh then used the knife to slash the tyres of the QFES vehicle before setting upon a female firefighter next door.
At the Bundaberg Watch House Yow-Yeh also urinated and spat in his cell.
The court heard Yow-Yeh had no memory of what he did the next morning.
Ms Kelly told the court Yow-Yeh's most serious entry in his criminal history was a manslaughter offence from South Australia which she described as an "excessive act of self defence".
She said while the plea was early, the attack was unprovoked.
Yow-Yeh's barrister Callan Cassidy told the court his client had no memory of what he did and appeared distressed when police told him what he did the following morning.
Mr Cassidy told the court his client had only moved to Bundaberg in recent years where he lived with family and became involved with drugs.
He said since Yow-Yeh was released from custody on bail in January, he had been complying with his medication and was getting help with his mental health issues.
Mr Cassidy said sending his client back to prison to serve actual time in custody would have jeopardised his recovery progress.
Before being sentenced, Yow-Yeh apologised for his actions.
"I didn't know what was real and what wasn't, I'm seeking help and I'm sorry for what I did," he said.
Judge Leanne Clare described the offence as an "alarming episode of random violence".
"It was bizarre, but it was also so dangerous," she said.
"It began when you pounded on the motel door of a volunteer firefighter, you had never met him, he had caused no harm to you.
"In fact, he was a local hero because he brought his team from Western Australia to help control bushfires near Lake Monduran.
"You had a knife in one hand and a bottle of alcohol in the other, and you were out of control."
Judge Clare took into account Yow-Yeh's history and the progress he had made while on bail.
Yow-Yeh was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an immediate parole release.
126 days of pre-sentence custody was declared as time already served.