BACK SLASHER: Cherbourg man Preston Richard Reynolds was charged with several offences including one count of armed robbery with personal violence after he used a knife to injure a Murgon bottle shop emplyee last year. Source: Facebook (2014).
BACK SLASHER: Cherbourg man Preston Richard Reynolds was charged with several offences including one count of armed robbery with personal violence after he used a knife to injure a Murgon bottle shop emplyee last year. Source: Facebook (2014).

School peers come to blows in bottle shop robbery

WHEN two former school mates came face-to-face in a Murgon bottle shop last year it wasn’t a friendly reunion, but instead a violent scuffle resulting in several lacerations and a broken sense of trust in the public.

Preston Richard Damon Reynolds, now 23, appeared in Kingaroy District Court charged with one count of armed robbery with personal violence, two charges of unlawful use of a car, one charge of stealing, one charge of receiving tainted property, one charge of contravening the direction or requirement of police, one charge of possessing a dangerous drug, one charge of failing to properly dispose of a needle or syringe and one charge of driving without a licence disqualified by a court order.

The young Cherbourg man appeared via video link from inside the Capricornia Correctional Centre near Rockhampton and pleaded guilty to all nine charges against him.

Crown prosecutor Michael Mitchells told the court Reynolds was 22 and on parole for previous convictions at the time of the offending, with the most serious charge of robbery with personal violence occurring on July 4, 2019 with the rest of the offences occurring in June and September.

“Mr Reynolds attended the bottle shop at the Australian Hotel with a 14-year-old co-accused in July last year,” he said.

“Mr Reynolds took a bottle of alcohol off the shelf and placed it into his bag. It was at that point he was confronted by the complainant, Mr Holding, who asked him what he was stealing and at that point the complainant went to grab Mr Reynolds’s bag.

“A struggle ensued in which Mr Holding put his arm around Mr Reynolds’s neck, he then slipped out of this hold and pushed the complainant to the ground.

“As the complainant got to his feet Mr Reynolds then produced a knife from the back of his pants and struck the complainant’s back in a downward motion causing superficial lacerations to his left shoulder blade and his middle and lower back.”

The court heard how Reynolds dropped the bag with the alcohol when he left the store, effectively getting away with nothing.

Several photographs depicting the slashes and consequent stitched on Mr Holding’s back were displayed as evidence.

Police were able to trace the incident back to Reynolds after his DNA was found on the complainant’s clothing.

Reynolds’s necklace also came off in the struggle with Mr Holding, with this distinctive item of jewellery subsequently able to be traced back to him.

Mr Mitchells told the court since the offending occurred, Mr Holding is distrusting of patrons and finds it difficult to sleep.

“He feels like he’s constantly looking over his shoulder and rushes to check customers’ bags when they exit the store,” he said.

The court heard Reynolds wasn’t arrested until September 2019, where he participated in a formal interview and initially denied the offending.

“When he was advised his DNA was located on the complainant’s clothing, he admitted to the offending and apologised for what he had done,” Mr Mitchells said.

“He, at that point, stated that he knew the complainant, having recognised him from school.”

The court heard Reynolds has a criminal history including an 18-month imprisonment with an immediate parole release date for two counts of burglary, unlawful use of a car and receiving tainted property.

Reynolds was also sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment on a total of 45 offences, predominantly property offences including burglary, entering a premises, as well as supplying dangerous drugs.

“As a result of the offending before your honour today, he has been returned to custody and has continued to serve out that sentence,” Mr Mitchells said.

“His current full-time discharge date is December 27 next year … so he’s been in custody for a further nine months since this offending – which can’t be declared.”

Mr Mitchells’s submission was for five years’ imprisonment given the use of the knife while Reynolds was on parole and mentioned the sentence would have to be served cumulatively.

He also asked Reynolds’s parole to be set at his current full-time discharge date.

Reynolds’s defence lawyer Robert Glenday argued for an ultimate head sentence of four years with a parole eligibility set at the 12-month mark.

He said it was a difficult sentencing exercise as there were a number of features to take into account, including his youth.

“We can’t lose sight of the fact that when he committed this offence, he was only 22, and he is still a very young 23,” Mr Glenday said.

“There are still prospects, as there are with all young men of this age, for rehabilitation and he has to be given some hope that he will be released back into the community at some point in time.

“He’s spent an awful lot of time in jail for someone so young.”

Mr Glenday also mentioned Reynolds has undertaken several courses while in custody and was hoping to get a job in mining or construction upon his release.

He told the court Reynolds had expressed a desire to leave the Cherbourg community when he is released and move to north Queensland or the Northern Territory to reconnect with his indigenous heritage.

Judge Orazio Rinaudo stated he was in favour of an imprisonment period that would not be too crushing on the young offender and would take Reynolds’s early plea into account when imposing a sentence of imprisonment.

But he said he could not overlook the fact the 22-year-old had reoffended while on parole and caused significant physical and emotional damage to Mr Holding.

“I accept that your early plea does show you are remorseful and I do accept that if you were to turn your mind to involving yourself in employment and not drugs and alcohol that you could clearly make something of yourself,” he said.

In regard to the indictable offence of armed robbery with personal violence Judge Rinaudo ordered Reynolds’s parole be set back another 12 months.

“For the two unlawful use of motor vehicles I sentence you to concurrent terms of imprisonment of six months, in relation to the driving disqualified I sentence you to one month imprisonment and you’re disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for two years from today,” he said.

“In respect of the other charges, you are convicted and not further punished.”

He also mentioned the head sentence is to be served cumulatively while all other sentences were to be carried out concurrently.

Convictions were recorded and Reynolds’ parole date was set to on June 15, 2021.