Career criminal recruits street kids to do his dirty work

A CAREER criminal recruited vulnerable young boys to break into cars for him because he did not want to return to jail.

But Michael Terrence Graham's plan backfired and now the arsonist is back behind bars where he will remain for at least 14 months.

Judge David Reid told Maryborough District Court on Friday he was "gobsmacked" by the 48-year-old Cairns man's criminal history.

The extensive rap sheet included 22 previous jail sentences.

"I have never looked through and added that many jail sentences before," Judge Reid said.

"He just keeps offending."

The court heard Graham, with the help of teenage boys, made attempts to break into cars in the Cairns region in August last year.

When attempts to start a 2001 Holden with a screwdriver failed, he set it alight.

The boys were later found asleep on the street and taken into state care.

A few weeks later, Graham drew the attention of police near Maryborough when he began "swerving" on the road.

Officers discovered Graham was not only unlicensed but was also in possession of a passport which was not his.

Defence barrister Paul Rutledge said jail was tough for Graham because he suffered severe pain due to injuries sustained in a car crash and other inmates wanted his morphine-based medication.

"He's under a degree of pressure from other prisoners to assist them in accessing morphine," Mr Rutledge said.

Judge Reid told Graham it was "appalling" he had involved the young boys "in these criminal activities."

"You told them, you don't want to break into the cars yourself, you want them to do it so you wouldn't have to go back to prison," he said.

Graham was sentence to four-years jail. He will be eligible to apply for parole on March 31 next year.

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