A Queensland woman who was bashed and robbed in a sleepy island town by young men she knew is still too scared to leave her house.
It’s been more than two years since Stradbroke Island couple Brian and Hetty Conlon’s post office and adjoining home were razed by fire and Mrs Conlon was kicked in the head during a violent robbery.
Five men charged over the July 21, 2012, incident at Dunwich appeared in the District Court in Brisbane on Thursday for sentencing.
The Conlons weren’t there because Mrs Conlon was still too traumatised by the cowardly attack, crown prosecutor Ron Swanwick told the court.
Her husband’s victim impact statement said the couple had put their business on the market because Mrs Conlon no longer felt safe in the town.
“She’s now constantly afraid of several young adolescent males that roam the streets of our township with no parental control,” he said in the statement read by Mr Swanwick.
“She no longer ventures into the main shopping area of the town for fear of meeting these people.”
The attack sent shock waves through the community and widened racial divides in Dunwich, home to a large indigenous community to which the offenders belong.
Tiege Lanczy Kalen Burns, 26, Tama Moearara Teoting Edwards, 25, Jacob Warren Martin, 20, Hunter Gabriel Murray-Costelloe, 19, and Bruce Issiah Walker, 20, must wait until Monday to learn their punishment after Judge Terence Martin reserved his judgment.
The court heard the gang was high on ice, cannabis and alcohol when they hatched the plot to set fire to a school in the early hours and lure Mr Conlon, a citizen firefighter, from his house.
With faces masked, Burns, Edwards, Murray-Costelloe and another man, Michael Coghill, broke into the home and forced the terrified Mrs Conlon, 45, to open the post office safe.
As the gang made off with about $23,000 in notes and coins, Murray-Costelloe kicked the slightly built, Indonesian-born woman hard in the side of her face and Burns used petrol to torch the house.
Mrs Conlon escaped, but suffered serious injuries to her face and eye from the attack, which Mr Swanwick said started out as “a nasty version of a Secret Seven adventure”, but ended as a “heavy duty crime”.
Coghill was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment last year.
Burns, Murray-Costelloe, Edwards and Walker have pleaded guilty to robbery and arson-related charges, while Murray-Costelloe has also pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm.
Martin has pleaded guilty to damaging evidence.
Their respective barristers told the court the men were sorry for their crime, with several submitting that substance addictions played a role.