A car crashed into the NightOwl convenience store early.
A car crashed into the NightOwl convenience store early.

The crimes that shocked the Whitsundays in 2020

From skinned crocodiles to major drug busts, these were the biggest crimes that rocked the Whitsundays in 2020.

Absolute croc

A man took a crocodile to a motel, skinned it, chopped it up and then ate it.

For that he copped fines amounting to almost $10,000.

Paul Andrew Isaacson, from Cannonvale, pleaded guilty in Proserpine Magistrates Court to taking a protected animal and making a false or misleading statement to a conservation officer, after he lied about it.

The court heard the Islands Inn Motel owner, in Mandalay, saw the 47-year-old cutting up the body of a crocodile, on September 18, 2018.

“He told the motel owner he intended to eat the meat, dry out the skin and make a belt out of it,” Department of Environment and Science prosecutor Caeli Lovell said.

“Two days later, police entered and saw the crocodile skin hanging from the window and took a photo of it.

“It was a juvenile saltie.”

Mr Lovell said it was unclear how the crocodile was killed.

He was fined $5000 for taking a protected animal and fined $1500 for making a false or misleading statement to a conservation officer, with a conviction recorded for both offences.

He also ordered him to pay $1750 costs and $1500 for the conservation value of the crocodile.


Collinsville shooting

A man was charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting another man in the stomach in June.

Jacob Eric Beauchamp, 26, from Collinsville, appeared in Proserpine Magistrates Court, charged with attempted murder, after police allege he shot a 29-year-old Collinsville man, at 12.45am on Saturday, May 30.

Along with attempted murder, Mr Beauchamp was also charged with acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm, receiving tainted property, unlawful possession of a weapon used to commit an indictable offence, possession of dangerous drugs (cannabis) and possession of drug utensils.

Police will allege three men arrived at a home on Bowen Developmental Road in Collinsville where a verbal altercation occurred with a resident of that address before one man was shot in the abdomen.

His matter is still proceeding through court.


NightOwl crash

A Bowen teen was almost five times the legal limit when she ploughed her car into the front of the NightOwl convenience store just minutes after staff left for the night.

Abbie Tyler Paul was ordered to pay the store thousands of dollars in restitution and was disqualified from driving for more than a year after making a “poor decision” on a night out with friends.

Just after 1am on March 8 this year, Paul walked back to her car with a friend after having some drinks at Magnums and Boom Nightclub and drove out of the carpark onto Waterson Way.

Sen-Constable Rowe said Paul, who was on her P plates, lost control of the car and mounted the kerb, then crashed straight through the front of the NightOwl convenience store.

Paul pleaded guilty in Proserpine Magistrates Court to dangerous driving while affected by an intoxicating substance and driving under the influence of liquor.

She was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, was fined $2000 and disqualified from driving for a year and 10 months.

She was also ordered to pay $4000 to the NightOwl for damage and loss of trade.

A conviction was not recorded for the dangerous operation of a vehicle charge, but was recorded for the driving under the influence of liquor charge.


Bunnings theft

A former Bunnings employee fronted court after being caught pocketing hundreds of dollars from the business while employed there.

Kai Alan McMurdo stole cash from the Airlie Beach store eight times between March and May this year, Proserpine Magistrates Court heard.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors said McMurdo pocketed notes at the end of his shift and hid notes under the register or keyboard multiple times while completing the final count for the registers.

He would often turn his back to the CCTV camera before sliding the notes into his pocket and stole a total of $630.

The 20-year-old man pleaded guilty this week to one count of stealing by a clerk.

He was fined $400 with no conviction recorded.


Two-day drug bust

Police charged 16 people with 191 offences in a two-day blitz as detectives seized almost 2kg of ice and $30,000 in cash.

Operation Sierra Minat targeted methylamphetamine trafficking in the Whitsundays.

Officers raided 11 properties throughout the region and seized drugs, guns, lab equipment and cash.


Paramedic attack

A young Mount Pleasant mother pinned a paramedic to a chair with her foot before unleashing a barrage of savage kicks to her groin and thighs.

A Queensland Ambulance Service crew was called to the Dingo Beach hotel where the 24 year old was acting out after taking a cocktail of drugs.

Jessica Elizabeth Mecner-Murray had ingested ice and LSD on July 12, 2019, and was so violent, police were also called to help paramedics.

She pleaded guilty to serious assault of a public officer, assault police, possessing used drug item an other offences.

Mecner-Murray was jailed for three months, wholly suspended for two years.

She was also placed on 12 months probation and handed a four-month good behaviour bond under which she must attend a drug assessment and education session.

Convictions were recorded.


Remorseless fraudster

In July, Mackay District Court heard Colin Murray Lewis swindled two vulnerable friends out of $166,000.

The offending occurred in the Whitsunday area between September 2017 and January 2018.

He had been living with his first victim, who had lost both his hands and legs below the knee after contracting meningococcal.

In September 2017 he received about $131,600 from a disability insurance payout and a fundraising campaign to help him “cope with the terrible result of that disease”.

“Instead you took advantage of his trusting nature and took money from him to, I accept, to try and get this mythical money out of these mythical bank accounts without telling him the story of how you came into this money,” Judge Deborah Richards said.

He took $35,000 from his second victim who was a carer for her husband – the money was for their retirement.

Lewis pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and was jailed for four years.

He will be eligible for parole on January 23, 2022.

Convictions were recorded.


Magnums attack

Raphee Ronnie Hasem was fresh off parole when she was asked repeatedly to leave an Airlie Beach bar for her drunken, unruly behaviour on July 2.

After delivering several serves of foul language, she scratched a manager’s face and then assaulted police.

It was not the first time Hasem, 40, had violently lashed out.

She had just finished parole for the same type of offence, after she punched another person and bit them several times.

Hasem pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm, assaulting police, public nuisance, obstructing police and possessing dangerous drugs - all stemming from that one night in Airlie Beach.

She was sentenced to six months’ jail with a parole release date in September. She was ordered to pay $750 restitution to her victim for pain and suffering, and all convictions were recorded.


A woman scratched a manager’s face at Magnums. Picture: File
A woman scratched a manager’s face at Magnums. Picture: File

Vile rapist

High on ice and drunk on rum, a man held his victim down as she cried for him to stop, all while her child slept in a nearby room.

The 24-year-old man had been invited to the woman’s Whitsunday home about 11.30pm through a mutual friend in May last year.

After drinking until about 3am the two men left, but Conan William Walker went back and let himself into the young woman’s bedroom.

Mackay District Court heard he went and sat next to the victim and began rubbing her body, but when she said no he grabbed her by the hair and pushed her face to the bed.

She didn’t move - her daughter was sleeping nearby.

“He proceeded to rape her,” Crown prosecutor Samantha O’Rourke said.

In May this year, 12 months after the offence, he pleaded guilty to three counts of rape.

He was jailed for six years with parole eligibility on September 2 next year.

The court heard on his release he wanted to move to Cairns to be with his dad and rebuild his relationship with his son.

Convictions were recorded.


Terrifying threat

A Jubilee Pocket man threatened to chop a woman’s children into pieces and hang them from the clothesline in a vile text message.

Later that day, Isaac Matthew Panochini went to the woman’s house with a sledge hammer while only her 16-year-old daughter was home, forcing the teen to make a frightened call to her mum.

Panochini appeared at Proserpine Magistrates Court via videolink from police custody and pleaded guilty to multiple charges including using a carriage service to make a threat to cause serious harm, common assault and wilful damage.

He was sentenced to nine months’ jail and was immediately released on parole.

He was also placed on a $500 good behaviour bond for a year.


A skinny dipper was caught at the Airlie Beach lagoon. Picture: Rae Wilson
A skinny dipper was caught at the Airlie Beach lagoon. Picture: Rae Wilson

Lagoon skinny dipper

A skinny dipper caught with his pants down at Airlie Beach Lagoon punched a security guard in the face multiple times when he was busted.

The guard suffered bruising and swelling around his eye as a result of the punches.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors said when the security asked a naked Craig Raymond Phillips to leave the lagoon in the early hours of the morning in March, he charged at the guard.

Phillips pleaded guilty to one count of committing a public nuisance within a licensed premises or in the vicinity of a licensed premises.

He was ordered to perform 40 hours of unpaid community service and the conviction was recorded.


Shocking DV breach

Dragging a woman through the house by her hair because he didn’t like the chicken nuggets she had cooked landed a Bowen man with jailtime.

In May, Proserpine Magistrates Court heard how the 21-year-old, who cannot be named, breached a domestic violence order by going to the aggrieved’s house and suggesting they have lunch.

“The aggrieved cooked chicken nuggets for the defendant and he said, What the f--- is wrong with these, they’re not even cooked,” Police Prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors said.

“He started yelling obscenities and smashed a glass bowl on the floor. He shouted in the aggrieved’s face and yelled ‘you are a slut’.

“She tried to make him go but he backed her into a corner and punched her in the head.”

The man pleaded guilty to contravening a domestic violence order (aggravated offence), as well as assault occasioning bodily harm - domestic violence offence.

He also pleaded guilty to a third charge of assault occasioning bodily harm, after hitting a man who tried to intervene in an argument, in January.

He was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Convictions were recorded.


‘Doomed sea voyage’

A Bowen father risked his five-year-old daughter’s life when he took his boat for a spin in rough seas and they had to abandon ship and swim through open water to be saved.

A magistrate told the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, his only daughter could have been killed in the “doomed” voyage, which he embarked on at night and during a strong wind warning.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors said a week after the man bought the boat in May, he decided to “test out” the vessel in Grays Bay and took his five-year-old daughter and a friend with him.

The boat stalled twice and he had to drain some oil, but by that time night had fallen.

Sgt Myors said the fibreglass boat had no navigational equipment so the man could only use his eyes to navigate, which would have been difficult with the cabin light on.

The Bowen man had just intended to drive around Gray’s Bay, however, he had been blown well off course and ran aground at Innaminka Rock.

Everyone had to abandon ship.

The man was fined $1200 with a conviction recorded.


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