|Photo: Australian Broadcasting Corporation|
A man in the public gallery of the Brisbane Magistrates Court threw marijuana to a prisoner — whom he apparently didn’t know — who was sitting in the criminal dock, an Australian court heard on Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal was delivering its judgment in an application by former journalism student and Department of Foreign Affairs cadet Matthew Scott Bell for a string of convictions, reports Mark Oberhardt at the Queensland Courier Mail.
Bell, 37, had been sentenced for nine indictable offenses and 14 summary charges committed between December 5, 2006 and November 4, 2008.
As the Court of Appeal heard Bell’s offenses while he was sitting in the public gallery of the Brisbane Magistrates Court, Bell took out a pouch. It contained a “grassy substance” which “smelt of marijuana.”
The court heard Bell attract the attention of a prisoner sitting in the dock. Bell threw the grassy substance toward the criminal dock.
Bell then left the court, but police claim they found a “small ball of green material” in the dock, which was later identified as cannabis sativa.
The prisoner denied knowing Bell, and there was no suggestion that he had attempted to receive the material.
Bell’s other offenses included trying to defraud the estates of deceased people by claiming to be a creditor. At the time he was writing the fraudulent letters of demand, he was a prisoner at Woodford Correctional Centre.
He also found a security card belonging to a lawyer and used it to get into a firm of solicitors. He then stole computers, equipment and two credit cards.
The court primly noted that Bell had dropped out of school in grade 11 to take up a, sniff, “hippie lifestyle” but at various times had been a journalism student and a cadet at the Foreign Affairs Department.
Despite his evidently checkered past, Bell seems to have come out OK this time.
He appealed on the grounds that his overall sentence of 3.5 years had been excessive.
Even though Bell was almost two years out of date to appeal, he asked the Court of Appeal to reduce his sentence because he had been returned to jail for violating parole.
He argued if his sentence was reduced, he could be released immediately because his parole period would have expired.
After looking at similar cases, the Court of Appeal agreed the sentence was manifestly excessive and reduced it to two years, four months and one day. It then set his parole release dat at last Thursday.