Midnight vigilante goes free
IT WAS described as a "vigilante home invasion", in which a man was bashed in front of his wife and children.
On November 11 last year, Mark John Cheers went to the home of a man he mistakenly believed had been selling drugs to his teenage son.
It was about midnight when a drunken Cheers let himself in the front door and assaulted Tim Jones as his family watched in horror.
Yesterday, Cheers was allowed to walk free from court on a suspended jail sentence due to his employment commitments and financial debt.
This was despite the fact he had been involved in a similar "vigilante home invasion" in 2007.
Cheers, 42, was convicted in the Hervey Bay District Court of break-and-enter and assault occasioning bodily harm.
"It's a very serious matter to go into another citizen's home and become aggressive as you did," Judge Hugh Botting said.
Before the assault, Cheers had been drinking at a hotel when he was told Mr Jones had been selling cannabis to his son.
When he arrived at his victim's Torbanlea home, Mrs Jones went to get her husband and shut the door behind her.
But Cheers let himself in and was met in the hallway by a naked and sleepy Mr Jones.
What followed was a "flurry of blows", Crown prosecutor Ken Spinaze said, and Mr Jones received a number of punches to the face before one of his teenage sons intervened.
He was left with a bloody nose, cuts to the mouth, facial abrasions and neck pain.
He had also suffered some psychological trauma.
It was said Cheers did not plan the assault, but his intoxication got the better of him.
He had returned to the Jones household the following day to apologise for his actions.
In 2007, he had accompanied someone on a home invasion at Tin Can Bay out of retaliation for a theft.
Cheers yesterday received a 30-month jail term for the assault and 18 months for the burglary, both wholly suspended.
Mr Jones and his wife Senita expressed disappointment at the sentence outside the court.
"I wish they had put him in jail where he belongs," she said.
"I had to fight for my life naked," Mr Jones added.
"That is so embarrassing to me."
Mr Jones said he had been off work with a neck injury since he was assaulted.
"I don't think it is fair that he gets to keep his job and I have to lose mine," he said.
Mr Jones denied the drug allegations, which were said in court to be unfounded.
"(Other people) fed him lies.
"This just goes to show that you have to be careful what you say in a small town."