Serial pest and repeat COVID-19 health restriction offender wins sentence reduction appeal

A “serial pest’’ jailed for a swag of offences including flouting Queensland’s COVID-19 health restrictions by telling police he could “go wherever he wants’’ during the pandemic has had his sentence reduced on appeal.

Acting Brisbane District Court Judge Rob East QC on Friday (Mar 26) allowed an appeal by Allan David Bird against sentences imposed on him by a Brisbane bayside magistrate for a string of offences that included a breach of Queensland’s coronavirus health restrictions.

Bird, 43, was effectively handed a 13-month jail term by Sandgate Magistrate Jennifer Batts after he pleaded guilty on July 20 last year to 15 offences that also included shoplifting, demanding free food and wilfully damaging a police car and a Moreton Bay Regional Council vehicle.

Judge East, in a 14-page page decision granting Bird’s appeal, noted: “In short, (Bird) is a serial pest.’’

“(Bird’s criminal) offending commenced in 1995 and has continued in an unrelenting way for the past quarter of a century. His criminal history extends over 20 pages.

“The subject of this sentence appeal concerns Chapter 69 of that history.’’

The court was told Bird’s latest series of offences were committed between April 3 and 20 last year (2020).

Judge East said Bird had also been convicted of three breaches of Queensland’s COVID-19 public health restrictions on April 11, 18 and 20.

For the first two offences, Bird was issued with fines totalling $2668.

However, Judge East noted the third breach occurred while Bird remonstrated with police after being arrested for being a public nuisance for demanding free food from a Sandgate takeaway, urinating in a local garden bed, stealing shampoo and tissues from a pharmacy and then spitting on the carpeted floor of a police vehicle on April 20.

“The last offence (Bird) committed on that day was a failure to comply with a COVID-19 health direction,’’ Judge East said.

“At the relevant time there was in place a health direction which required citizens to remain in their home except for specified reasons.

“When asked by police why he was not at home that day he blithely replied that he could go anywhere he wanted.”

Bird, in his appeal, contended that the sentences imposed upon him should have been ameliorated because of the hardship endured in custody as a consequence of the pandemic restrictions imposed on prisoners.

To that submission, Judge East replied: “It is … somewhat ironic that (Bird) had been thrice convicted of disobeying COVID-19 restrictions before he went into prison, yet he contends that the hardship caused by the restrictions in prison justifies a further reduction of sentence.’’

Judge East granted Bird’s appeal for various reductions in the prison head-sentence terms imposed for a number of offences – in particular multiple counts of being a public nuisance —  but ordered they all be served concurrently to the 12-month jail sentence Bird received from Magistrate Batts for three counts of wilful damage.

Read decision here: https://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2021/QDC21-049.pdf

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