‘Highly threatening’ attack on mum leads magistrate to offer offender chance to choose his own sentence

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Geraldton Courthouse.
Camera IconGeraldton Courthouse. Credit: Anita Kirkbright / The Geraldton Guardian

A Dongara man who threatened to hurt his mother and damaged her property was presented with an unusual option in court last week — he got to choose his punishment.

Clinton Leigh Nicholson appeared in Geraldton Magistrate’s Court last Thursday, admitting criminal damage, threatening harm, and threatening to damage property.

The court was told the 40-year-old was in a “volatile and angry” state when he lashed out, because he believed his mother had been mistreating him.

He had been living in a tent outside her house following an agreement between them after prior incidents of coercive and abusive behaviour.

Clinton Leigh Nicholson
Camera IconClinton Leigh Nicholson Credit: Supplied

Prosecutor Acting Sgt Glen Wishart said Nicholson’s anger boiled over on October 8 and he began “yelling and screaming” at his mother before threatening to hurt her and smash up the house.

He said police attended after a call from a neighbour and issued Nicholson a move-on notice to leave the property for 48 hours.

He was arrested four days later after returning to the house and continuing the tirade, damaging the woman’s car, outdoor setting, barbecue, windows and phone.

“He was screaming that she was mistreating him,” Acting Sgt Wishart said. “It was a volatile position for the victim.

“She was fearful of retribution if she called the police.

“The damage to the property appears designed to give the impression he would follow through with the serious threats.”

Magistrate Robert Young called Nicholson’s behaviour “disrespectful”, “highly threatening”, and “childish”.

“What concerns me is this behaviour isn’t out of character for you,” he said. “You’ve been coming to court for many many years.”

He said Nicholson had been placed on suspended imprisonment orders in the past and would often reoffend after they finished.

“As the months go by, what the court tells you seems to fade away and you reoffend,” he said.

“I’m going to give you a choice.

“You get to choose your own sentence today.”

Nicholson was told to choose between four years of a pre-sentence order with supervision and programs, or an eight-month stint in jail.

“I’m well aware of the risk of prison if I ever offend again,” he said. “Being kept accountable for four years is probably the best thing for me.

“There’s a long way for me to go to repair the relationship with my family.”

He was sentenced to a two-year pre-sentence order, which Mr Young said he would extend if it was completed.

“You’re going to come back to court frequently so we can see how things are tracking,” he said. “If you breach it you will be sentenced to eight months imprisonment.”

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