Vigilante mission ends in jail

A MAN who armed himself with a metal bar and robbed an alleged drug dealer because he wanted to “assist the police” has been released from jail after pleading guilty to four charges in the Maryborough District Court.

Christopher Clive Wright spent 477 days in custody for the armed robbery and a related burglary at a Maryborough unit.

Crown prosecutor Brendan Manttan said that on August 10 last year Wright, 40, co-accused John Joseph Haramija and a woman arrived at the victim’s unit about 7.30pm.

Soon after, the victim arrived home in a taxi and was accosted by Wright and Haramija.

Wright was armed with a metal bar and Haramija allegedly held a wooden baton.

The man was pulled out of the cab and told to get on the ground or he would have his knees and head smashed in.

Haramija allegedly ordered the man to pay the taxi driver, then Wright pushed the victim on to the ground again.

The pair demanded money from the man, who handed over $140.

Wright then held the metal bar to the man’s shoulder and ordered him into his unit, where Wright kept watch over him while Haramija and the woman stole several items from the home.

When the victim escaped, Wright chased him up the road until being detained by police.

Wright told police he was trying to catch the man because he was a drug dealer.

When police searched Wright, however, they found three grams of cannabis and a folding knife concealed in his clothing.

Defence barrister Rick Taylor said Wright was acting out of a misguided sense of justice after finding out the victim had been supplying battery acid-laced ecstasy tablets to children.

Wright had been in protective custody, for his own safety, because of the information he provided to police.

Mr Taylor said Wright believed Haramija was working for the police on the night of the robbery.

Wright was “trying to right a perceived wrong” by bringing the man before police, Mr Taylor said.

Judge Julie Ryrie said that regardless of the motivation, it was not acceptable for Wright to take the law into his own hands.

“You went around to teach him a lesson and to act as an intermediary for the police.

“Next time, pick up the phone and tell the police what you know.”

Judge Ryrie sentenced Wright to four-and-a-half years’ jail, suspended after 477 days, which he had already served.

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