Addict haunted by shock death and devastating house fire
A series of tragic and traumatic events pushed a recovering Albany Creek opioid addict over the edge and back into a life of crime, drugs and prison time, the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.
Peter John Johnston, 38, pleaded guilty to three charges, including two counts of entering premises to commit an indictable offence by break and one count of failure to appear at court.
His lawyer told the court Johnstone turned to drugs when he was just a teenager and quickly built up a long and sordid criminal history.
Johnstone managed to get his life back on track with the help of a mental health plan and a suboxone program, but the progress fell apart when his three-year-old son accidentally burned down the family home while playing with a BBQ lighter.
"It caused him to spiral into drug addiction," the lawyer told the court.
"And shortly after that, his brother passed away."
The court heard Johnstone's brother suffered a shock brain aneurysm and heart attack on the floor of his mother's kitchen.
Johnstone was confronted by the sight of his mother desperately trying to perform CPR in a last-ditch effort to save him.
It was no use, and Johnstone was given the grim task of helping police carry his brother's lifeless body out of the house.
On October 28, 2019, in the midst of his downward spiral, Johnstone broke into two locked, parked cars outside the Albany Creek Leisure Centre.
Police prosecutor sergeant Graham Turner told the court Johnstone smashed into the front window of the first, taking $3500 worth of goods including a laptop, tablet, handbag and sunglasses.
Johnstone then turned to the second car, a Mitsubishi Lancer, where he broke in through a side window and stole a handbag and purse, worth $250.
A forensic examination of blood left on the broken car windows linked Johnstone to the crime, and that information was further corroborated by dashcam footage taken from a nearby vehicle.
Police located and arrested Johnstone some time later, on January 17, 2020.
He was taken to the Pine Rivers watch house and granted bail until his court appearance, scheduled for February 10.
Johnstone failed to appear, a warrant was issued, and he evaded arrest for another six months.
He was finally taken into custody on September 2.
During the six months spent in a correctional facility he missed the birth of his three week-old daughter.
He was today sentenced to 13 months imprisonment wholly suspended for 18 months.
Originally published as Addict haunted by shock death and devastating house fire