Joseph Patrick Hickson, 22, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to one count of being cruel to his dog.
Joseph Patrick Hickson, 22, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to one count of being cruel to his dog. Facebook

From homeless drunk to potential community leader

ELDERS in the Rockhampton Murri Court were beaming with pride at the efforts of a young offender at turning his life around after being a homeless drunk.

Joseph Patrick Hickson, 22, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to one count of being cruel to his dog.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Shaun Janes said the witness was a passenger in a car with the windows up and the radio on when she heard a dog scream "like he was being killed" about midnight on July 7 near the Farnborough Rd and Normanby St intersection in Yeppoon.

He said the witnesses found Hickson lying in the garden bed of surf life saving club with the tan Pitbull on top of him as he attempted to choke it.

When police attended, Hickson was too heavily intoxicated at that time but during an interview later, Hickson told them he'd drunk a bottle of red wine and a bottle of vodka that night and did not recall the incident.

The dog was a pet that had been given to him by a friend when it was a pup. The court heard the dog has since been taken out of his care.

Defence lawyer Lauren Townsend said Hickson had grown up in multiple homes and suffered abandonment issues.

She said he was homeless and had a bad problem with alcohol at the time of the offence, sleeping in the grounds of community centres.

Ms Townsend said as a result of this offending, the staff at a community centre became aware of his situation and reached out to help him.

Since then, he walked from Yeppoon to Gumbi Gumbi Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Awareness Centre of his own accord to sign up for a 12-week rehabilitation program which he completes next week.

He also relocated to Rockhampton.

Aunty Esme Wesser praised Hickson's mannerisms, saying he was always spoke respectfully towards her when they talked.

"There were concerns where he was sleeping," Aunty Esme said.

"He was sleeping under the building.

"He walked from Yeppoon to Gumbi Gumbi (in Rockhampton) without me referring him.

"To me, he is a success story."

Uncle James White referred to Hickson's volunteer work helping elderly people learn how to use a mobile phone and working at the art gallery.

"You've got the potential to be one of the leaders of our community," he said.

Magistrate Mark Morrow ordered Hickson to 12 months' probation to assist him continue his rehabilitation path.

"Everyone speaks highly of you," he commented.



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Both cash and alcohol were stolen during the break-ins.