Magistrate tells methhead how drug will fry his brain

James Melbourne

James Melbourne

MAGISTRATE John O’Callaghan has seen first-hand the devastation of ice addiction.

The way the drug ruins the brains of users was made clear at a recent forum he attended.

He went to great length to explain that to one addict yesterday.

Mr O’Callaghan was sentencing James Melbourne over a series of crimes that included him using a large firecracker to blow up a letter box outside a Wodonga home.

After telling the 21-year-old he was heading to jail, Mr O’Callaghan said he accepted what he said about the crimes didn’t necessarily “make any difference to you”.

But Mr O’Callaghan said he could at least try his best to make it clear to Melbourne how he had to keep away from crystal methamphetamine.

The heavily tattooed Melbourne listened intently as the magistrate detailed what he had learnt about ice.

Mr O’Callaghan told Melbourne he was at risk of totally compromising his brain if he didn’t give up the drug — and six months’ cold turkey in jail was not enough.

“The crucial thing about ice is that it re-wires your brain,” he said.

Mr O’Callaghan said Melbourne faced the prospect of being a totally different person by the age of 30, devoid of being able to care for others, if he did nothing.

“There’s a bigger concern for you — you’ll become an idiot.”

To make his point even clearer, Mr O’Callaghan asked Melbourne if he had ever seen the 60-year-old drunk in a pub who wandered around aimlesslessly, talking to himself.

That, he said, was what he faced if he didn’t keep away from ice — but far, far sooner.

“It’s horrific to look at a human brain that’s had 10 years of ice,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“You’ve got a choice now to reverse it.”

He then asked Melbourne if he was “clear” about the consequences if he didn’t.

“Yes, your honour,” Melbourne replied quietly before he was led by police from the court.

AN ice addict who used a large firecracker to blow up a letterbox was urged yesterday to give up the drug or face becoming nothing more than “an idiot”.

Wodonga magistrate John O’Callaghan told James Melbourne his brain function would rapidly deteriorate if he continued using methamphetamine.

“Get off ice. With ice you have got no idea what you are dealing with,” he said.

Melbourne was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty yesterday to 14 charges related to several incidents.

These included reckless conduct endangering serious injury, carrying a concealed weapon and failing to stop a vehicle on a police request.

Melbourne, 21, must serve six months behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.

Prosecutor Sen-Constable Wayne Taylor said Melbourne, who had two accomplices, shoved a large firecracker into the letterbox of a Marshall Street, Wodonga, house on March 29, about 11am.

Sen-Constable Taylor said the firecracker exploded soon after, shattering the concrete top of the letterbox into hundreds of pieces.

Noise from the explosion was so loud neighbours stepped out of their homes to investigate.

Police at the time said the blast was so great that it was lucky no one was killed or seriously injured.

The court heard also how Melbourne had previously stolen a mobile phone from the counter of a Wodonga shop.

Police went to his Marshall Street home after Melbourne was identified on security footage, though the phone was never recovered.

He was also convicted of a burglary on a Rutherglen house between January 13 and 17.

Sen-Constable Taylor said Melbourne also punched several holes in the internal walls of his home between March 1 and 29, causing $1500 damage.

Melbourne and a few friends also agreed to commit a series of thefts at a Traralgon shopping centre on April 24, about 11.30am.

He selected groceries valued at $178 from a Coles supermarket, but put the shopping basket on the floor before leaving.

A security guard followed the group, which prompted Melbourne to confront him in “a threatening manner”.

“Is there anything you want to search me for in particular?” he asked the security guard.

Sen-Constable Taylor said Melbourne then pulled up his jacked to reveal a pocket knife.

“He said if he didn’t back off he was going to cut him,” he said.

Defence solicitor Mario Vaccaro said Melbourne admitted he had the knife, but denied making the threat.

That led to a charge of threatening to inflict serious injury being withdrawn yesterday.

Melbourne was fined $2100 for driving offences related to an incident at Bethanga on April 30 when he failed to stop for police.

Although a learner permit holder, Melbourne drove without displaying L-plates and without a fully licensed driver beside him.