Drugs 'no excuse' for smashing US tourist with vodka bottle

BETHANGA man Brendan Thomas will spend four years in jail for the bashing of a US tourist that included hitting him with a bottle and striking a blow to his nose which required 10 stitches.

Thomas, who turns 21 later this month, will be eligible for release in November 2016 after he was sentenced in the District Court at Albury yesterday.

Judge Martin Blackmore imposed a further two years on parole and made it mandatory for Thomas to attend residential drug rehabilitation.

Thomas appeared in custody for sentencing on a charge of robbery in company with wounding, having previously pleaded guilty.

The tourist, 24, from California, had been in Albury only a few hours when he was attacked and robbed by Thomas and a juvenile in the early hours of November 23 last year at J.C. King Park.

He was lured from his car, assaulted a couple of times and had property stolen.

Some of his belongings were later found by police strewn along Bungambrawatha Creek.

The court was told Thomas had been using cannabis, amphetamine, ecstasy and consuming alcohol since the age of 15.

Barrister Christine Mendes said Thomas appeared to have some underlying mental health issue.

“It is a known fact that some people trigger mental illness by taking these drugs,” Judge Blackmore said.

“Having mental illness is not a licence to commit serious crime.”

Judge Blackmore said Thomas had smashed a vodka bottle on the victim’s head before punching him to the nose, causing a split with blood going into his eyes.

He said the sentence needed to emphasise to the community that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

“There was very substantial violence involved in the commission of this offence,” Judge Blackmore said.

“The victim was quite seriously injured.

“The offender has an extensive criminal history both as a juvenile and an adult.”

Judge Blackmore said Thomas was on a bond at the time of committing the offence.

“He continued to act just as he wanted to by taking drugs,” Judge Blackmore said.

“He was high on drugs. He was dependent on drugs.

“He wanted to take those drugs.

“The use of drugs does not excuse his behaviour.

“His prospects of rehabilitation are minimal at this stage.”

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