Joshua Peter Southgate, 30, pleaded guilty to break-and-enter, burglary, wilful damage and obstructing police.
Joshua Peter Southgate, 30, pleaded guilty to break-and-enter, burglary, wilful damage and obstructing police. Trevor Veale

Violent robber hid in ceiling when police came knocking

A VIOLENT burglar who hid in a ceiling cavity when police came knocking tried to kick holes in a roof to escape arrest.

But Joshua Peter Southgate was forced to exit his makeshift escape tunnel in a flurry when police directed blinding capsicum spray into the cavity.

Southgate still tried to run, however, and it took four officers to subdue and handcuff him, Mackay District Court was told on Friday.

The 30-year-old Mackay man has an extensive history of dishonesty offences, such as break-and-enter, and was previously jailed for armed robbery.

Southgate fronted the court in custody, pleading guilty to break-and-enter, burglary, wilful damage and obstructing police.

Southgate's mother and other supporters were in the court's public gallery for the hearing.

Judge Paul Smith summed up submissions from Crown prosecutor Joshua Hanna and defence barrister Stephen Byrne.

Southgate was only out on parole for a few months when he committed his latest crimes, Judge Smith said.

On July 3, 2016, Southgate pounced on a Mackay townhouse, removing a flyscreen and climbing inside, while the residents were away for about 15 minutes.

A woman living at the home returned and confronted Southgate before he bolted from the scene.

The home was ransacked and damage was done, but Southgate did not make off with any items.

On July 4, 2017, Southgate entered a South Mackay home and stole a car, jewellery power tool and gift certificates while the residents were away; one of them receiving medical treatment.

DNA evidence, such as a palm print, linked Southgate to at least one of the crimes.

Later, police attended Southgate's unit with outstanding warrants.

"You were in the roof hiding from police. You told police to f**k off, you weren't going back (to prison). You tried to kick holes in the roof to escape," Judge Smith said.

"Capsicum spray was deployed through a hole to subdue you. You actually got through the roof, jumped out and ran and were apprehended.

"You resisted arrest. It took four police officers to put handcuffs on you."

The judge said Southgate served 15 months in jail ahead of sentence, partially related to the offences before the court.

Southgate suffers post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a rough childhood, has ADHD and has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia - possibly linked to drug use.

During the hearing, Mr McLennan said Southgate had trouble reading and writing, but had made attempts to better his lot in life while behind bars.

That included undertaking a substance abuse program, educating himself, earning a construction qualification and working as a cleaner and chief cook.

Judge Smith said he feared Southgate was "getting institutionalised" and urged him to "walk away from the temptation" to return to drugs once released from prison.

Southgate was sentenced to a head sentence of 15 months, but will be eligible for parole on January 5, 2018, considering time served.

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