Alastaire Pope at work in 2015. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Alastaire Pope at work in 2015. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

Rocky man sentenced for burglary, assault and a prison riot

There was little debate in Rockhampton District Court today around the fact that Alastaire Bevan Pope needed to serve time behind bars – the question was exactly how much time the young father of six should be given.

The charge sheet was vast to say the least with the 31-year-old facing one count each of common assault, burglary and riot with the circumstance of aggravation at the Capricornia Correctional Centre – the maximum sentences for the latter two are life in prison.

The court heard that Pope had an extensive criminal history, many of which stemming from issues with drug and alcohol abuse.

The court heard that Pope, while on a suspended sentence subject to probation, was the getaway driver for a group of four who premeditated the burglary of a Frenchville house early last year on May 7.

Last Thursday, Glynn Rowan Oates, 30, and Adriene Elizabeth Weeding, 28 were sentenced for the same incident however it was accepted that Oates and Weeding entered the home, but Pope did not.

The robbery was violent in its nature and although he did not enter the house, it was accepted that Pope facilitated the offence in his role as the getaway driver.

“You were aware that there was a plan to steal property and it was possible some level of violence might be inflicted,” Judge Michael Burnett said while stating the facts.

The second charge was for common assault while on bail for the burglary charge.

The complainant was Weeding, the co-accused from the burglary incident. The court heard that Pope struck her in the face, and he was later remanded in custody as a result.

That is where Pope racked up his third charge in relation to the prison riot.

The court heard that on October 30, 2019, Pope and several other prisoners escaped from their cells by peeling back a wire grill on the cell doors.

Popes defence argued that Pope may have done so out of fear of retribution from fellow prisoners, which Judge Burnett took under consideration.

The prisoners, including Pope, made it into the yard where they armed themselves, and then climbed onto a roof where they held out for several hours before being taken back into custody.

A guard was attacked by one prisoner but not by Pope and it was accepted that he took part to a lesser extent.

When deliberating his sentence, Judge Burnett acknowledged Pope’s extensive criminal history.

He did however hold hope, however slim, of rehabilitation due to the offender’s age.

It was made apparent to the court however that a major hurdle was going to be Pope’s drug and alcohol affliction – which the court heard he planned to address.

“Drugs and alcohol are a problem for you,” Judge Burnett said.

“You get on the drink, take the drugs, you commit offences … You’re going to need to work hard on that.”

Ultimately, the ball is in your court Mr Pope and you can make of your life what you wish. But you’ve had a life already where you have experienced a deal of custody and one would expect that by your age, you’d be tiring of it.”

Judge Burnett’s final sentence for Mr Pope was three years for the burglary, four months for the common assault and an additional year for the prison riot.

Pope had already served 336 days in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole on November 2, this year.