A kitchenhand’s crime spree began by punching a 16-year-old in the face and ended after he crashed a stolen car after reaching speeds of 180 km/h – even though the car only had three wheels.
In Acting Justice Richard Refshauge’s recently released ACT Supreme Court judgment, he said Canberra’s Jake Blackburn had pleaded guilty to a long list of “serious and disturbing charges” against him.
The facts of the case show the spree began on 18 March 2020 when Blackburn approached a 16-year-old student who was talking with some friends at Lake Tuggeranong College and punched him in the nose.
He then pushed the student down onto the road and repeatedly punched him in the head, pushing a girl away when she tried to intervene.
Next, at about 2:00 am on 29 March, the balaclava-wearing Blackburn broke into a unit in Belconnen by smashing a glass door then held an axe to the head of the unit’s owner for about 30 seconds while demanding cannabis.
He and a co-offender took their victim’s wallet and demanded the PIN to his EFTPOS card, took his car and drove to a bank, but could not withdraw cash.
The next day the victim found his car in Kambah. When he was leaving his home that afternoon, Blackburn and his co-offender got into his car and offered to buy him beer, which they did before driving away in the car again.
On 3 April, police spotted the car in Melbourne, but Blackburn drove off erratically when they attempted to intercept it.
Later that day, when the car failed to stop for police in Yass, they deployed tyre deflation devices, which blew out the right-hand rear tyre but it did not stop the car and it continued into the ACT.
ACT Police saw the car near Hall. By then it had no right-hand back tyre. It was being driven at about 140 km/h with sparks coming from its rear as it was on its axle.
Blackburn did not stop for police and reached speeds of up to 178 km/h in an attempt to escape them.
But at the intersection of Ginninderra and Gundaroo Drives in Belconnen his car drove through a red light and crashed into a taxi passenger van so hard the van flipped on its side before colliding with another vehicle.
Blackburn was arrested at the scene of the crash, which Acting Justice Refshauge described as “terrifying”.
“It is amazing that no one was killed in the collision,” he said.
When a police officer asked Blackburn if he had recently been overseas, he said he had just returned from Wuhan and coughed in the officer’s direction, continuing to cough until police put a mask over his face.
Blackburn pleaded guilty to an extensive list of charges including assault, burglary, taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, failing to stop for police when directed and dangerous driving.
He spent 166 days in jail before being sentenced when he was 21 years old.
Acting Justice Refshauge noted Blackburn’s troubled upbringing, including stints of homelessness.
He said Blackburn had reported auditory hallucinations and heavy substance misuse, as well as vague paranoia, and was diagnosed with depression, cannabis-use disorder, ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He stressed the need for rehabilitation with such a young offender, saying a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order would be appropriate because Blackburn was “dependent on illicit drugs and alcohol”, which “substantially” contributed to his offending.
“Mr Blackburn has accepted responsibility for the offences he has committed and expressed disappointment at his actions,” he said.
Acting Justice Refshauge sentenced him to three years and six months’ jail, suspended for the 12-month treatment order followed by a two-year good behaviour period.
“Getting out of drug addiction is not easy and getting back into a life of normality, or what we regard as normality in the community when you have had the kind of background and difficulty in growing up that you have had, is not easy,” he told Blackburn.