Harley Bridgett outside Hervey Bay District Court, awaiting sentence for grievous bodily harm.
Harley Bridgett outside Hervey Bay District Court, awaiting sentence for grievous bodily harm. Karleila Thomsen

Abuse, tears in courtroom circus

A COURTROOM circus culminated with tears and abuse yesterday as four members of an alleged youth gang were told they would be spending Christmas behind bars.

Ring leader Harley Wayne Bridgett, his sister, Hayley, and co-offenders Hayden McKinnon and Dean Johnston were remanded in custody while they await sentence for the violent bashing of a man in Kawaungan this year.

Co-accused Amy Bridgett was granted bail on the basis her involvement would likely result in a non-custodial sentence.

For the past two days a team of barristers and instructing solicitors have packed the Hervey District Court in defence of their young clients along with a gallery full of supporters.

The group are accused of carrying out an attack on a man in a park in March this year where a baseball bat was used to inflict blows that left the victim with critical injuries including two facial fractures.

On Monday morning all five along with a co-accused juvenile offender pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.

Their sentencing was adjourned until yesterday but when the crowd gathered, Johnston's defence barrister Rick Taylor threw a spanner in the works when he produced a document indicating his client's constant substance abuse may have affected his psychological state.

Mr Taylor asked for the sentencing to be adjourned until January.

After much deliberation it was decided all defendants would be sentenced in the New Year.

Hayley Bridgett's distressed little boy had to be removed from the room early in the morning after he continued to sob and call out to his mum.

Crown prosecutor Maita Aylward objected to the bail on the grounds that, with the exception of Amy, all offenders had been convicted of at least one joint crime in the past.

She also said that all four had been on restrictive orders whether it be probation or parole when they took part in the attack.

McKinnon's barrister said there would be no application for bail as his client felt he could continue his rehabilitation through a local counselling service even while behind bars.

Judge Terence Martin said he was satisfied the remaining defendants posed an unacceptable risk of failing to appear at the January sittings.

As Mr Martin handed down his ruling a distraught Hayley Bridgett burst into tears and began hurling abuse at her sister saying "it's f***king unfair. You f***king b****".

Amy Bridgett was rushed out of the court while the others were left to hug family and friends goodbye.

All will re-appear in court on January 16.


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