EXCLUSIVE: Teen may only spend 18-months in jail for attack on terminally ill disabled pensioner

Paula Doneman

A teenager may serve only 18-months jail for an unprovoked attack on a terminally ill disabled pensioner which the judge described as so distressing the CCTV of it were “seared” into his brain.

The Beenleigh District Court today was told offender Andrew Charles Crombie was also on bail for attacking three strangers in random and unprovoked attacks in the same shopping centre six months earlier.

Crombie and his 15-year-old accomplice attacked the 47-year-old pensioner who suffers from Huntington’s Disease as the man sat on a public bench at the Beenleigh Market Place around 1am on October 27 last year.

Andrew Crombie. Source: Supplied

Crombie struck the man, whose identity has been suppressed, 26 times with a house brick while his co-offender continued to punch and kick the man as he fell to the ground.

After being arrested, Crombie told police he attacked the pensioner because he wanted to “check his pockets” before stealing his pouch of tobacco as his victim lay on the ground.

The 20-year-old remained emotionless during the sentencing hearing today before Judge Ian Dearden.

Judge Dearden jailed Crombie’s juvenile accomplice in May.

Today Crombie, jailed for four and a half years, was sentenced for a series of crimes he committed while on bail between April 30 and October 27 last year.

Crown prosecutor David Nardone told the court Crombie had significant criminal history since he was 16-years-old and that two stints behind bars had done nothing to deter him from re-offending.

CCTV of the attack on the diasbled pensioner. Source: Seven News

“(Crombie) has now graduated to serious violent conduct,’’ Mr Nardone said in his sentencing submission.

The offences for violence were “random and without any sound reason or justification”, Mr Nardone said.

Crombie was 17 when he was first jailed for 15 months for property offences - the sentence was suspended after almost four months and he was placed on three-years probation.

It was not long before he breached his probation and returned behind bars for dishonesty offences, Mr Nardone told the court.

He was paroled from his 18-month sentence in February 2013 and was released a year later.

Mr Nardone said two months after finishing his parole, he assaulted three strangers in succession at the Beenleigh Market Place.

A drunken Crombie punched a man in the face, giving him a bloodied lip “simply because Mr Crombie thought the complainant was looking at him”.

When the man’s partner tried to intervene, Crombie punched her in the face and then struck her two or three times to the back of the head.

The couple went to store security officer who was also then assaulted by Crombie.

“That security officer became the third victim of assault….” Mr Nardone said.

CCTV of the attack on the disabled pensioner. Source: Seven News

When the security officer led Crombie outside, he was punched repeatedly by Crombie and a group of people who joined in on the attack.

Crombie was released on bail after the April 30 attack last year and was arrested four times within six months.

He was arrested on two separate occasions for stealing food.

Crombie remained on bail and then was arrested by police on October 11 last year when he attempted to start fights with random strangers on a street at Eagleby and threatened them with a bottle.

When police told him he was being arrested for public nuisance, an intoxicated Crombie struggled with officers and tried to spit at them.

He was issued a Notice To Appear in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on October 27 last year. However the court was told in the early hours of that morning he and his 15-year-old co-offender attacked the pensioner.

Crombie's attack on the disabled pensioner was 'unprovoked'. Source: Supplied

Mr Nardon said the victim was a 47-year-old special needs person who suffered from Huntington’s Disease and required the ongoing care of his brother.

“They were strangers to the complainant,’’ Mr Nardone said.

Crombie struck the man with half a house brick 26 times about the head and face.

IN a statement of facts previously obtained by Seven News outlined how pensioner was held by the shirt as he fell to the ground before being put put in a headlock by Crombie as the younger offender continued to kick him.

The victim cannot defend himself and again tried to escape but was dragged back to the bench.

The youth then shapes up in a boxing stance, and again lashes out again at the victim.

“Whilst the complainant was on the ground, the defendants repeatedly kicked him to his head and body…" according to the documents.

Crombie's lawyer told the court that his client recognised his actions were 'improper and uncalled for'. Source: Supplied

The victim suffers from Huntington’s Disease, a debilitating brain disorder which makes it difficult for him to speak, think and move.

The attack at the shopping centre, south of Brisbane, lasted around two minutes during which the victim was repeatedly kicked and punched when he fell to the ground or tried to get away.

Mr Nardone said Crombie admitted to police he assaulted the pensioner but initially denied hitting him with the brick.

“He later admitted to finding the brick near a taxi rank. During the course of the interview he minimized his offending …his last sentences have not deterred him from re-offending but to the contrary,” he told the court.

Mr Nardone said the attack involved the repeated use of a primitive weapon and was committed while Crombie was on bail.

The assault on the three people in April last year “painted a picture of an offender quick to resort to the irrational use of violence,’’ Mr Nardone told the court.

Defence barrister Phil Hardcastle told the court his client recognized what he had done was “improper and uncalled for”.

He said Crombie who claimed he did not know the pension was ill and disabled had been a heavy user of methylamphetamine before turning to alcohol.

In the lead up to the October 27 attack, Mr Hardcastle said Crombie drank excessively as he failed to cope with the pressures of a failing relationship, job loss and the “pressures of home life”.

He said since being in custody, Crombie worked as a kitchen-hand in jail, attended Alcohol Anonymous meetings and completed several courses.

Judge Dearden described the series of violent attacks by Crombie as “bizarre and irrational”.

He said the attack on the couple in April last year had caused them significant distress.

“…Everbody is entitled to go about their business without someone like you did, behaving in an appalling and despicable way..And when the young woman tried…with significant concern for her partner, you punched her as well, ,’’ Judge Dearden said.

“This is simply irrational, illogical behavior, it makes no sense whatsoever….” He said.

Referring to the footage of the October 27 attack on the pensioner, Judge Dearden said – “I saw the footage a few weeks ago and I hate to say it’s seared in my brain, I can actually play it in my head.

That’s how distressing it was and I see a lot of distressing things in this job and found that particularly disturbing and distressing. It seems you went and found half a housebrick and attacked this gentleman who was simply minding his business.”

The only explanation that “makes sense” for Crombie’s behavior was his being serious affected by alcohol and Zanex at the time of the attack, he said, “(Your) criminal history is very concerning with repeat offences… however this seems to be a significant step up in seriousness and its very concerning that you seem not to have been able to stop offending despite a couple of periods in jail.”

In sentencing Crombie, Judge Dearden took into account Crombie’s age, his early plea of guilty which spared the victim testifying and his “very serious criminal history” for someone so young.

He jailed Crombie for four and a half years for the armed robbery of personal violence in company of the pensioner, and 18-months each for the attacks on the three people in April last year.

Crombie was convicted of the four offences relating to stealing, public nuisance, obstruct and assault police but received no further punishment as it was included in the head sentence.

The sentences are to be served concurrently.

Crombie has already served closed to eight months since his last arrest and will be eligible for parole on April 26 next year.

Outside of court, the pensioner’s family said they were disappointed with the sentence and described Crombie as an “animal”.