A year of stupidity, tragedy and sex abuse

DAVID James Oakley was no better at handing himself in than he was at committing armed robbery.

When he tried to hold up a Launceston pizzeria, the owner promptly dived behind the bain marie.

Oakley, 19, then turned on a customer but having no luck instead attacked the bain marie by smashing it.

He tried handing himself in twice but was told to go away by police both times.

He got lucky on his third attempt and told arresting officers that it was the stupidest thing he'd ever done.

Oakley was sentenced to a year non-parole in February.

THE fatal shooting of Westbury's Nicholas Whiteley by police was a tragedy for all involved.

February's five-day inquest into the 2010 death dissected the shooting in grim detail.

Mr Whiteley, 21, was shot dead in his home by Longford Constable Ian Blake.

The officer, who was by himself, did so after Whiteley attacked him.

Former coroner Robert Pearce found that Constable Blake had acted with reasonable force.

But he said the presence of another officer at the time might have prevented Mr Whiteley's death.

He recommended that Tasmania Police examine the cost of axing its single officer model.

A LAUNCESTON podiatrist committed an "appalling breach of trust" when he inserted at least one finger into the anus of a patient with a sore foot.

Terence Williams, 40, was found guilty in March of sexually assaulting a 31-year-old woman.

He pulled down her pants and placed his ungloved finger or fingers into her rectum without offering an explanation.

Williams said the idea "popped into his head inconveniently" as he was treating the woman.

The English citizen was sentenced to four months' jail, wholly suspended, by former Supreme Court judge Justice Peter Evans.

TRUTH can be a rare commodity in the courts. So it was somewhat refreshing when drink-driver Peter Robert Newson told a Launceston magistrate that his actual alcohol reading was higher than what appeared on the court documents.

"I've got the paperwork at home," the Newnham resident told then magistrate Robert Pearce in March.

Newson drove with a reading of 0.178 after about 25 cans of beer to get cigarettes.

He received a seven-month suspended jail term.

TASMANIA gets a new Chief Justice in Supreme Court Judge Alan Blow, who replaces Chief Justice Ewan Crawford in April. Launceston magistrate Robert Pearce and Hobart barrister Stephen Estcourt, QC, are elevated to the bench. Barrister Simon Brown is appointed as Justice Pearce's replacement in the Launceston Magistrates Court.

IN MARCH Newnham's William John Foran, 53, was found not guilty of murdering his mother by way of insanity. In a strange five-day trial both the prosecution and the defence argued for Mr Foran's acquittal on the ground of mental illness.

A WAVERLEY bikie is given the maximum 20 years' jail in September for the violent stabbing murder of Kings Meadows man Darren "Badga" Booth.

Michael Vernon Lowe, 52, a member of the Launceston Outlaws, stabbed Mr Booth three times in an altercation over a woman at her home in Kings Meadows.

Mr Booth's family were forced to endure an extremely graphic 11- day trial, with Outlaw members present throughout, after Lowe pleaded not guilty.

In a unanimous decision, the jury rejected Lowe's claim of self- defence.

Justice Robert Pearce said Lowe showed no remorse and Mr Booth had done nothing wrong.

He set a 12-year non-parole period.

AUTHORITIES find a "death pit" containing 150 sheep at the property of a Epping Forest farmer, the court hears in August.

Philip Colin Osborne, 62, is found guilty of causing unreasonable and unjustifiable pain and/or suffering to 300 weaning merino sheep on his farm.

Agricultural officer Colin Jessup said he could not be completely sure how many sheep were in the death pit.

"There was water in the bottom of it and I could not determine how many were under the water," he told RSPCA prosecutor Glenn Carey. According to Mr Jessup, crows had pecked out one of the sheep's eyes while it was still alive. Osborne was fined $8000.

IN a strange and tragic case, the court heard about a teenager raped in public in Waverley who later unknowingly started a relationship with her rapist.

Waverley's Stewart George Pyers, 41, raped the 14-year-old in 2002 while wearing a mask.

The court heard that a DNA match finally linked him to the rape in 2012.

Critical to the case is a harrowing triple-0 call made by the victim just minutes after the rape that is played to the jury. Justice Robert Pearce sentenced Pyers to a maximum 4.5 years in jail in September.

A FORMER Redpa farmer is given one of the nation's toughest sentences for animal cruelty when he is ordered to serve 15 months' jail.

Roderic Neil Mitchell was found guilty of nearly 190 offences relating to animal cruelty in a case that had stretched six years.

Magistrate Reg Marron said it was the worst case of its type to come before the courts that he'd seen.

Along with a prison sentence, he ordered Mitchell pay $111,000 in costs and banned him from having livestock for 10 years. Mitchell is appealing against his conviction and was bailed before spending any time in prison.

FEW confessions are as frank as that of attempted murderer Nigel Laurence Hutton.

Hutton, 55, is in Risdon Prison after trying to kill another Cape Barren man in September.

In a revealing police interview just hours after shooting the man, Hutton told how he'd waited five years to seek revenge.

His younger nemesis had beat him to a pulp at a party years ago.

"I was no way ever going to let him get away with that," Hutton told detectives in a remorseless police interview replayed to the Launceston Supreme Court in October.

The only thing that he appeared regretful of was the "bad shot" that let the victim escape with his life.

FEW trials go as weird, or long, as the curious case of an eastern snake-necked turtle and its accused owner Sven Olaf Weiner.

Mr Weiner - a sometime political candidate of various persuasions - was charged in 2010 with having a restricted animal - namely the turtle.

In September Launceston Magistrate Tim Hill ruled the evidence - namely the turtle - inadmissible.

In that time the proceedings were delayed on a number of occasions.

In one court appearance Mr Weiner applied for an adjournment because of the onset of a migraine, which he blamed on a looming low- pressure weather system.

Ultimately Mr Hill decided that "the undesirability of admitting the evidence does outweigh the desirability of admitting it".

WHEN John Gay was arraigned in Launceston's Supreme Court, there were few Tasmanians who could feign disinterest.

Here was a figure, simultaneously despised and lauded, about to fight insider trading allegations while running Tasmania's largest ever company - Gunns.

On the first day of what was expected to be a long and complicated trial, the forestry magnate pleaded guilty.

His confession admitted that he had sold $3 million worth of Gunns shares while privy to price-sensitive information. The mitigation of his offence, conducted by a Melbourne barrister, took almost two days.

In the end, Justice David Porter was unable to fathom how much Gay had actually reaped from the crime and fined him $50,000.

Gay is now fighting to overturn a ban on running companies.

Australian Federal Police are yet to decide whether to pursue Gay's proceeds of crime.

THE high-profile court case involving the Director of Public Prosecutions, Tim Ellis, SC, charged with causing death by negligent driving, will begin in earnest in March.

West Launceston's Natalia Pearn, 27, died and Mr Ellis, 58, was injured, when their cars collided on the Midland Highway in March this year. Following the self-exclusion of the chief and deputy magistrates from the case, it will now be heard by magistrate Chris Webster in Hobart.

IT left three people dead and four people seriously injured, and finally ended with a jail sentence. Harvey John Charnock, 55, was charged with killing three people and injuring four others by negligent driving. In September 2012 his trailer decoupled from his truck on the Bass Highway at Elizabeth Town, slamming into an oncoming Cancer Council minibus. The Queenslander immediately appealed against his partially suspended nine-month jail sentence handed down in June. But in October the Supreme Court in Launceston dismissed his appeal, to the relief of victims' families and survivors in the courtroom. Outside the court Maverick Tours, who was driving the Cancer Council bus that day, described Charnock as a "cowboy".

THE flesh-covered novelty pen defence in a public masturbation case was, well, novel. But claims by Mark Andrew Tripptree, of Waverley, that he was actually holding the said pen when two women alleged he was masturbating in his car in front of them were rejected by a Launceston jury.

The 47-year-old teacher was found guilty and convicted of two counts of indecency in December.

HIS actions caused a policeman hunt and fed into community fears about rising gun violence in Launceston. But when he was brought to court, Ravenswood's Kristam Targett claimed he was the victim.

On May 14 he broke into his ex-partner's Ravenswood home, masked and camouflaged, accusing her of cheating before shooting up the house. The woman fled and he chased her shouting "I f---ing loved you, slut". Targett went on the lam, sparking a man hunt. He handed himself in five days later only to claim a phantom male lover of the victim had actually fired the gun at him. In December he changed his plea and was sentenced to 15 months' prison, with the final six suspended, for aggravated burglary and aggravated assault.

PAUL Brian Edward Connelly, 50, was sentenced in December to 20 years' jail for trying to kill his two children in a car explosion.

The boys, 5 and 8, would not only be scarred for life physically but forever live knowing their father had tried to kill them.

Connelly, aiming to spite his estranged wife, used gas bottles to blow up the car while using lollies to keep his sons in the vehicle.

Chief Justice Alan Blow described the crime as an atrocity, setting a non-parole period of 15 years.

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