25 November 2005

Fireworks activist acquitted

| Kerces
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Bernard Leslie Brennan, who bought illegal fireworks in May last year for an expose in the Canberra Times showing how easy it was, has been acquitted of charges of purchasing a prohibited dangerous substance, the ABC reported.

RiotAct’s earlier coverage of this case is here.

The court found that Mr Brennan had no intention of using the fireworks.

Ben Doherty, the CT reporter who was contacted by Mr Brennan to set up the photo shoot, told the court that at the time, about a month before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, there was a huge amount of public interest in the banning of fireworks.

The ABC says,

Chief Justice Terence Higgins concluded there was insufficient evidence against Mr Brennan.

He added he could not explain why a man who exposed a criminal activity was being prosecuted.

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I find it funny that, when a court shows some common sense, some people start jumping up and down and saying “No no no! They must stick to the letter of the law as it’s written in black and white!”

The fact is there is often more than one possible way to interpret law. That’s one of the reasons we have courts – to find the most sensible and reasonable interpretation of the law for any given case!

They got it right.

For got to mention(above comment posted by Jay’s friend ‘borrowing’ login)

There doesn’t even seem to be much logic in bothering to debate such a case.

If the guy had been caught and THEN used the defence that it was all a plan to expose a illigal activity then sure you all have the right to debate the irony of him getting off.

But the thing was he handed himself in to make a point and then unfortunately become caught up in some confused legal mess that had to go to court to sort out.

This case seems to be showing once again that if you are willing to take on the big guys you have to be prepared to fight whatever strange attacks they are prepared to throw at you in return to ruin your life, just to show you that they can, making others run scared from also trying.

The kind of arguments constructed here seem to be in the same fanasty ‘denial of the facts land’ that enable such legal messes to continue in the first place.
It’s not wotrth the hastle, please just use you logic rather than boredom or whatever causes one to want to stir people up with contraversial ideas and make life easier for all of us!!!

Also I in regards to the ’emotional attachment’ issue that’s just silly. ‘Lets kill people cause someonein my family has never been killed and I have no emotional attachment to such an issue’.

Someone who has first hand experience in a matter logically knows more than someone who doesn’t. The person who doesn’t know as much may be in the position and have the freedom and right to say what they like as speculation, but’s that all it can be until you get the facts, speculation. So please listen to people who have experience and maybe we can broaden all of our knowledge without having to go out and experience everything for ourselves first.


Regardless of whatever bits of legal twaddle from the legislation chaps like Maelinar can trot out – the simple reality is that the court found that no offence was committed. Sure a couple of pen-pushing pubes at Worksafe probably got their (brown) noses out of joint as a result of this guys exposure of inadequate or absent compliance and enforcement but that doesn’t change the fact that the court – upon hearing all of the evidence – found that no offence was committed. Regardless of all the undisputed facts – that the fireworks were purchased, that the plan was to expose slack licensing arrangements, that the whole thing was premeditated – the prosecution still failed to show that an offence had occurred.

Sure all you bush lawyers will continue to trot out mindless quotes of black-letter law in blissful ignorance of the simple principles of the proofs for indictable offences but it wont change the fact that the guys innocent.

I think that many are confusing the fact that the guy has been found innocent with another outcome that can happen in these types of cases – where the prosecution proves its case, the defendant is found guilty but the Judge or Magistrate records no conviction – different kettle of bungers altogether.

Now stop your bleating.

barking toad11:51 pm 25 Nov 05

Higgins for once in his life on the bench got it right – now he can go back to freeing crims.

Can someone please explain why this matter got beyond someone saying “yeah, well copped son, now go and mow some lawns or something”. Or did some little diddums get his nose out of joint and want to make an issue of it – sadly it’s not diddums’s money!

The goose should’ve been prosecuted for handing over good illegal fireworks that could have been put to good use by lashing them to cat’s tails and lobbing them at deb’s place thereby eliminating ferals and getting snouts out of troughs.

Any scraps from collateral damage could be collected by the mayor and used to fill potholes.

jaywayward – owning a pet is completely for human enjoyment, so how is it any different to letting off a few crackers in the larger scheme of things.

and im afraid the whole poor pet thing is a crock. dogs go nuts over thunder, cars backfiring, you walking past the gate, other dogs on heat, shadows on the wall, you name it and dogs go off.

teh poor dog goes nuts ban crackers argument
is just another thing the softhead anti fireworks antifun control your life because they have none crowd use to try and further their social agenda.

lg obviously has an emotional attachment to this case, and therefore cannot objectively assess the issue.

i of course having no involvement can see the issues clearly.

zealots of all shades assume they are always right and you are always wrong, and whats more not only are you wrong bet you must be an evil person because they are so right that anyone who opposes them is just plain evil, wrong and probably clubs baby harp seals.

these types often pop up at any demonstration you care to name with a rotating placard for protest du jour.

Forget trying to argue with the P.E.T.A. brigade, JoeyJoeJoe, for them anything is justified if you can claim it’s “for ANIMAL WELFARE”.

LG, obviously I touched a nerve there. Whilst your personal attack gave me a good chuckle, I believe it was misdirected. I’m an animal lover, more of a dog person than a cat person though. My dog has no problems with fireworks night, but hates storms (go figure). I haven’t bought fireworks for years now, but I fondly remember being a little kid and enjoying Queen’s BD weekend with my parents and friends, and think it would be a shame for that to be curtailed.

Of course the moronic few ruin it for everyone – I live in Banks and receive about 4 or 5 weekends of fireworks in the neighbourhood. I don’t know what the solution is, but I consider outright bans akin to banning pets because of the occasional maltreated dog that bites a child. Prosecute the irresponsible individual.

Breaking the law (which I believe this person did) isn’t the right way to forward a social agenda, IMHO. “Undercover sting operations” are the responsibility of the police. Oh, and Ray Martin.

Nice work to you Ari. I guess ignorance is bliss after all.

In regards to Bonfires comments about animal owners needing to be more responsible for securing their pets, yes i agree.

What i don’t agree with is the fact that the said animals should have to endure such a frightning ordeal regardless of where or how they are kept. Especially when the explosions causing such terror are completely for human visual enjoyment.

It’s mean. It’s shallow. It’s for Dipshits.

Wow – Jay just got the triple whammy in one succcinct post – sanctimony, arrogance and hyperbole – superb work!

Fireworks are for the underdeveloped. I’m not saying that i’m mentally better than anyone. What i do know is that it doesn’t seem fair to have tormented pets cowering and running off to homelessness because of those who like to waste money on poluting the environement with ash and smoke, just because they feel it is their right to watch pretty lights in the sky.

I grew out of that shit when i was 8 years old. Some people need lives.

As much as I love a good bonfire bashing, I’m afraid to say the law was broken.

The jury or whatever have obviously weighed up all of the proofs, and allowed the fact that he was doing this to expose an illegal trader to shine through as sufficient justification for his actions.

In my own beliefs though, that he wasn’t innocent, he was guilty with no punishment.

I am not endorsing bonfires comments, nor do I have any idea what this has to do with driving.

Ok, I’m getting a bit passionate here. I am going to step back and agree to disagree. (except with Bonfire, but he would die of shock otherwise).

(IMHO) Life isn’t black and white Bonfire and for this reason, neither can the law be. We have a system to check out the shades of grey in every situation and this seems to be what has happened.

And what’s with the comment about a lack of evidence that speeding kills? Are you serious or just trying to back up some kind of point?

Oh, and section 77 makes it illegal for him to possess the items out of the licensed period of time as well. (as long as he didn’t have a license to have them outside the licensed period)

Jury found him innocent. Therefore, innocent.

That, my friends, IS the law.

LG, Thumper and Big Al, sorry to spoil the bonfire bashing, but I quote;

ACT (as in Canberra) Dangerous Substances ACT (as in Law) 2004 Section 76 para 1, 2 and 3.

In short form, the exact place where he broke the law, is contained right there because the supplier was not licenced at that time to sell the fireworks to the recipient, and the recipient was not licenced to receive fireworks at that time, and the recipient was reckless about the sellers authority to sell him fireworks.

The onus of proof is in the fact of sale, and the prerecorded intent to purchase the fireworks illegally.

So quit it about him breaking the law, because he did. Whilst I don’t condone the sale of the fireworks, the law requires a rewrite because it only took me 10 minutes (there was a delay as the .pdf file loaded) to work that one out, and I can’t fathom how they managed to overlook that little baby.

Perhaps I should study law…

he plead not guilty due to using the ‘higher cause’ excuse.

he admits buying the fireworks. it was what he set out to do.

absolutely no responsibility taken for his own actions at all. a disgrace.

he demonstrated intent, he admitted carrying out an offence.

you can tap dance around your moral crusader agenda all you like, its an abuse of the legal system and typical of the way the act legal system operates.

He pled not guilty to the offence. I know Bonfire, I WAS SITTING RIGHT FUCKING BEHIND HIM AT THE TIME!! Also, you don’t have a trial unless you say you are not guilty.

he admitted purchansing the fireworks.

he was photographed doing same.

teh case was dismissed, but the fact he admits comitting an offence remains.

his argument is that he did it for a higher purpose, sort of like those peopel who blow up abortion clinics.

Methinks its time to switch on the RiotACT crap-o-meter – especially when we see stuff like this rancid morsel of bulldust from Bonfire – “the fact is he committed an offence” – Sorry bucko, but that’s the whole point of the story – he didn’t commit an offence.

The prosecution alleged that he committed and offence, he was charged with an offence and in due course the court found that he didn’t commit the offence. I guess that’s why we have a legal system – to protect people like this guy from idiot bureaucrats and wannabe bush lawyers.

A little attention to detail and a vague understanding of language would do the debate some good.

i do not advocate speeding, i do not believe that it should be illegal.

there is about as much evidence that speeding ‘kills’ as there is that fireworks hurt dogs. SFA.

perhaps next time im caught speeding i will go to court and say that because i had no intention to speed i should be let off.

at least when im caught i cop me lumps, not whine like a softhead zealot.

I’d like to purchase some of these illegal fireworks then light them up and lob them back into the store/carboot that I purchased them from! That should sort these dudes out.

So if a pet owner does the right thing, and brings their dog inside, but there are fireworks in the street and the dog jumps THROUGH the window, the owner should be prosecuted?

And as for the crime bit, Bonfire, you advocate speeding because you don’t believe the law is correct, or applies to you. Bit of a double standard?

I’m done.

the fireworks animals debate is a stalking horse for social engineers.

there are plenty of things that make dogs run away, thunder, cars backfiring, dogs on heat.

instead of banning fireworks, prosecute irresponsible animal owners who dont secure their yards or pets properly.

here we have an example of a person buying fireworks illegally, using fraud and misrepresentation and our legal system endorses this behaviour.

just remember he was trying to expose the sale of illegal fireworks (ie the ones that are too big) not just stop the sale of fireworks

“us” meant the other animal activists. It’s clear if you read the comment. Can you read?

Shut the fuck up Joey, we’ve already had the ridiculous “ban thunderstorms” debate. Spend a night out at the RSPCA helping euthanise pets who have got so scared they have lept through the windows to get out. Or bandaging bleeding animals who have done the same Then talk to me. Actually, no, don’t talk to me even then.


“the rest of us” who are trying to ban fireworks doesn’t include me. Yes, they’re dangerous. Yes, they’re used improperly and can hurt/kill animals. Same can/is said about motor vehicles. I think one weekend a year (even though morons use them on the preceding and following weekends as well) isn’t an impost on animal owners.

My dog hates thunderstorms! Ban thunderstorms!

It’s well documented. It was documented in advance. He is an animal activist, why would he use fireworks when he (and the rest of us) have been trying to ban fireworks across the whole of the ACT?

Get a brain bonfire. They’re fun!

so he says.

the fact is he committed an offence.

why are we even bothering to build a prison ?

But you would do that for no reason but yourself. This man did it because of ANIMAL WELFARE. Yes, even cats. I think he is a good guy. I also think it is very lucky I was not selected on his jury, as I would have had to step down as I am notsure I could have been impartial.

id liek to buy a machine gun and carry it around with me in the streets. but its ok, because i have no intention of using it.

interesting precedent.

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