Neighbours threatened with chainsaw

A Nelligen man threatened his neighbours with a chainsaw during a 24-hour rampage, Batemans Bay Local Court was told on Monday.

The McCardys Creek resident was charged with 25 offences following a string of incidents in February.

The court heard 32-year-old Joseph Rowan Wilson breached an apprehended violence order and went onto his neighbours’ property with a chainsaw to cut down trees. When they attempted to film him doing so, he ran at them with the chainsaw. The incident then spiralled out of control, with Mr Wilson driving a vehicle over their fence and shooting at cars in Catalina.

Charges from the incident ranged from common assault to firing a firearm likely to injure, assaulting police and drug possession.

In sentencing Mr Wilson, who suffers from a psychiatric condition, Magistrate Chris Bone pointed out the treatment options available under the Mental Health Act.

“Doctor Samuels (a forensic psychiatrist) says the defendant is suffering from paranoia and psychotic illness and that he should be committed to (mental health facility) Chisholm Ross,” Mr Bone said.

“I could do this according to the law and he would get a substantial sentence but he has been in (jail) for a long time and eventually he is going to get out ... but he won’t have been treated.”

However, the police prosector urged Mr Bone to reconsider.

“Speaking from matters that I have dealt with in the past ... there can be situations where people are committed, treated and released back into the community within days,” he said.

“We would be asking for some security for the community.”

The barrister appearing for Mr Wilson told the court that while the offences were of an “obviously very serious nature,” his client was a sick man who needed treatment.

“My client has an abusive tendency, which is something he has failed to address,” he said. “He has never been required to attend any type of counselling.”

Mr Bone took into consideration the fact that the incidents were one episode that occurred when Mr Wilson was off his medication but said someone could easily have been killed.

“We cannot confidently say that just because he is back on his medication something like this will not happen again,” Mr Bone said.

“He has a long history of problems.”

A pre-sentence report showed that Mr Wilson’s father was chronically ill and had been admitted to an intensive care unit around the same time the crimes were committed. This caused Mr Wilson to feel stressed and “lead to the chain of events for which he now appears,” the report said.

Mr Bone used a composite penalty to cover the 25 charges.

“This will take into account the fact that the defendant is clearly mentally ill but that he had at the time - and still has - the ability to keep control by taking his medication and by not abusing marijuana,” he said.

Mr Wilson will serve a 20-month jail sentence with a 12-month non-parole period for seven charges pertaining to the weapons and assault police offences.

He will serve a consecutive sentence over nine months for 15 charges that include among other things breach of an AVO, common assault and larceny.

In handing down his sentence, Mr Bone said: “You don’t send people to jail to protect people in the future, you send them to jail for the crime they have done.”

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