A Gungahlin man resumed his pre-sentence hearing at the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (2 May) by threatening to sack his legal representation.
Jayke Steven John Fleury fronted court over charges of trafficking cannabis and possessing a prohibited weapon and an additional account of possessing the proceeds of crime (namely $1820 in cash).
Transfer charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, aggravated burglary and using an offensive weapon likely to cause grievous bodily harm were referred to the court on Friday (29 April) and relate to an incident Mr Fleury was arrested for on 25 September 2021.
Mr Fleury had previously pleaded guilty to all charges.
The 36-year-old told the court he felt like his instructions to his legal team “aren’t being followed and I’m being misled”.
However, Chief Justice Verity McWilliam warned Mr Fleury against this course of action as the pre-sentence hearing had already been partly heard.
“I’m concerned [this decision] will be to your disadvantage if I don’t finish hearing from your current legal representatives,” she said.
“It would be terrible if you sacked your lawyer because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication.”
After a brief discussion with his legal representatives, Mr Fleury reversed his decision and allowed the court to continue with his pre-sentence hearing.
According to facts previously tendered in court, police searched Mr Fleury’s ACT Housing address in Gungahlin on 4 July 2019. They found 819.7 grams of cannabis in various locations and dried cannabis plant branches weighing 206.1 grams inside the wardrobe of his bedroom.
The total amount of cannabis had an estimated street value of between $5,855 and $20,492, depending on how it might have been sold.
A pressurised can of ‘NATO’ branded personal defence spray was also found, a form of capsicum spray.
In court, Crown prosecutor Keegan Lee argued the “serious nature” of the transfer offences, particularly the aggravated burglary charge, meant a more serious sentence was needed.
“He broke into a home with an axe, confronting the occupant … this offending makes this much more serious than when it was just a trafficking charge,” he said.
“In light of the grave nature, in particular of that offence, ultimately [I argue for] a penalty of imprisonment.”
Mr Lee noted Mr Fleury had accessed rehabilitation services since his arrest and said it was to Mr Fleury’s credit.
“Perhaps a sentence can be crafted to recognise that,” he said.
“It might be Your Honour imposes a non-parole order towards the lower end of the range, to recognise the steps taken and assist [his continuing rehabiltation].”
However, Mr Fleury’s defence barrister James Sabharwal argued a suspended sentence would be a more appropriate way for Mr Fleury to continue receiving help.
“The pre-sentencing literature is shouting out that he needs to do something about his drug problem,” he said.
Mr Sabharwal said Mr Fleury had hoped he would receive a drug and alcohol treatment order (DATO), but unfortunately, that was not possible.
“That’s not something we can do much about. That’s a court problem,” he said.
Chief Justice McWilliam shared Mr Sabharwal’s concerns about the court’s DATO program, which is currently full.
“It’s a great shame it’s not available to him,” she said.
“[But] DATO is not the only way the court can deal with this.”
However, Chief Justice McWilliam expressed her hesitancy in passing down a suspended sentence.
“Mr Fleury has broken the conditions of a suspended sentence before,” she said.
“That’s my difficulty in giving that option again. Because of the number of offences, the gravity and the violence element … that takes it outside the ICO [intensive corrective order] option.”
Mr Lee also expressed his opposition to a suspended sentence.
“Effectively, it would be too lenient an outcome,” he said.
“[With a non-parole order] the parole board can take into account his behaviour in prison … it provides an incentive [to maintain good behaviour] that the offender doesn’t necessarily have.”
However, Mr Sabharwal said Mr Fleury had a very good reason to stay on the straight and narrow.
“He wants to be a proper father to his young daughter, not an absent father,” he said.
“He misses his daughter.”
Mr Fleury’s partner and 15-month-old daughter were in attendance at the back of the courtroom.
At the end of the hearing, Chief Justice McWilliam addressed Mr Fleury directly, acknowledging that his offending could be a result of his upbringing.
“You can change your stars right now, notwithstanding you are facing a prison sentence,” she said.
“I’d like to shoot higher,” Mr Fleury responded.
“I think you should,” Chief Justice McWilliam said.
“You’re 36. You’ve got the majority of your life ahead of you. Your future is sitting at the back of the courtroom.”
Chief Justice McWilliam reserved her judgement, with a sentence scheduled to be handed down on Friday 6 May.
“You are likely to be sent to a term of imprisonment, but I will certainly take into account what you’ve told me today,” she said to Mr Fleury.
“Rehab is an absolute priority for your future and for the benefit of the community.”