A number of pensioners have found themselves before the courts this year.
A number of pensioners have found themselves before the courts this year.

Pensioners who wound up before the court this year

It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you do the wrong thing you can expect to pay the price and end up before the court – just ask these pensioners.

These Northern Rivers pensioners found themselves on the wrong side of the law this year.

We take a look back at some of the crimes they were convicted for in 2020:

• Paul Anthony Johnson

A disability pensioner punched a taxi driver when asked to pay his fare, a North Coast court heard.

Paul Anthony Johnson, 61, appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court on November 16 facing a charge of common assault.

The Banora Point man had been drinking before ordering a taxi and when asked for payment on arrival at his location, Johnson punched the taxi driver in the nose earlier this year.

Defence solicitor Carl Edwards said his client could not remember why or what happened.

He said Johnson has difficulty getting around as he is in need of a double-hip replacement because of a car accident some years earlier and had been drinking alcohol on the night of the offence as a form of self-medicated pain relief.

Mr Edwards said Johnson, who is on a disability pension, suffers from PTSD and has now given up drinking entirely.

Magistrate Michael Dakin convicted and sentenced Johnson to an 18 month community corrections order with a condition to abstain from drinking.

READ MORE: Man punched North Coast taxi driver over fare

• Brian John Lourey

Byron Bay pensioner Brian John Lourey, 67, was convicted of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
Byron Bay pensioner Brian John Lourey, 67, was convicted of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

A man who fraudulently withdrew more than $130,000 from his 94-year-old mother’s bank account to feed his gambling addiction will spend 18 months on home detention.

Byron Bay pensioner Brian John Lourey, 67, had made full admissions to police before being brought before the court on 22 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

According to court documents, his fraudulent spending took place between May 2018 and February this year.

The victim’s three children were jointly appointed power of attorney in 2010 and in May, 2017 this was amended to allow for them to have power to handle her affairs if she lost the capacity to do so herself.

This gave her children “no additional powers” to benefit financially and they were to “always act in the principal’s best interest”, court documents said.

But Brian Lourey, while he was making legitimate transactions under those powers, took things further.

Lourey’s siblings were unaware of his illegal activities until his offending was uncovered by his brother, who checked their mother’s bank statements in February, before alerting the bank and police.

It began with $400 across the month of May 2018, about the time his mother suffered a series of medical episodes and moved from her home into an aged care facility.

The fraudulent spending quickly escalated into the thousands and by February this year, Lourey had withdrawn $135,100.90 of his mother’s money for his own use and accumulated $836.98 in ATM fees in that time.

Many of the withdrawals were made at services clubs in Byron Bay and elsewhere in the region, as well as at ATMs in the town and near his home.

When police attended Lourey’s home on March 6, he “fully admitted” to having withdrawn funds without legitimate authority.

He told police he had “converted the money to his own use to support his gambling having and fund a lifestyle for himself to which he was not entitled”, court documents said.

When the case returned to Byron Bay Local Court on July 20, Lourey was sentenced to an 18-month term of home detention.

READ MORE: Pensioner took $135,000 from his elderly mum for gambling

• Paul Thomas Ryan

Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, of Tweed Heads has been found guilty of murder over the stabbing death of his former partner. Picture: Liana Boss
Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, of Tweed Heads has been found guilty of murder over the stabbing death of his former partner. Picture: Liana Boss

A man who stabbed his former partner to death in a frenzied attack inside a Tweed Heads apartment will spend at least 17 years behind bars, a court has heard.

Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, was convicted earlier this year at a judge alone trial of murdering his former long-time partner Marie Van Beers in a stabbing attack in the kitchen of the flat the pair shared on Brett St, Tweed Heads, on November 12, 2018.

The killing took place on the same day that Ms Van Beers was granted an AVO against Ryan following threats against her and the day before she was due to leave him for good.

On December 10, Justice Richard Button sentenced Ryan to 23 years in jail with a non-parole period of 17 years for what he called an “extremely grave” example of murder.

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Button pointed to the primary motivation for the murder as Ryan’s anger and jealousy at his former partner of decades “taking the first steps into a new life” by pursuing a romantic relationship with a man on the mid-north coast.

The court heard that Ryan murdered Ms Van Beers in a frenzy in the unit kitchen using two knives and at one point held a knife to her throat, forcing her to call her sister.

It heard Ryan stabbed the victim multiple times with many wounds inflicted to her back.

“Words were replaced by murderous actions,” Justice Button said.

“She was entitled to feel safe in her own home.”

The court heard Ryan was a chronic alcoholic and prescription drug abuser who had worked a number of unskilled jobs until 25 years’ ago when he suffered a work accident.

Since that time, it heard his life had become “degraded” including frequent hospitilations, an admission to a psychiatric hospital and a suicide attempt.

Justice Button also noted the impact on members of Ms Van Beers’ family, who the court heard continued to struggle with challenges caused by the “terrible day” of the murder.

With time served, Ryan will be eligible for parole on November 11, 2035.

READ MORE: Man sentenced for murder could lead to offender ‘dying in jail’

•Norman William Brine

Two Woodburn men have been convicted of cultivating 112 cannabis plants.
Two Woodburn men have been convicted of cultivating 112 cannabis plants.

A Woodburn father and son who cultivated 112 cannabis plants have escaped jail time because of COVID-19 concerns.

Norman William Brine, 69, and his son Kurt Brine, 35 had both previously pleaded guilty to cultivating a prohibited plant and possessing 1.53kg of cannabis, while Norman also pleaded guilty to supplying a prohibited drug.

Police raided their Woodburn home in July, 2019, where the plants were discovered in tents throughout the house.

Both men appeared in the dock, while maintaining the required 1.5m social distance, at Lismore District Court on June 1 to be sentenced.

Norman was sentenced to a three-year intensive correctional order, after Judge McLennan acknowledged his “unlikelihood” to reoffend and his efforts at rehabilitation.

Previously, the court had heard Norman had stopped using cannabis both recreationally and medicinally since his July arrest and was attending weekly counselling.

Meanwhile, his son, Kurt, was convicted sentenced to a three years community corrections order.

“While Kurt was someone who was not the principal, he was someone who was an aider of his father,” Judge McLennan said.

He added that he “hoped” he wouldn’t see either man before the court again.

READ MORE: Woodburn father, son sentenced over 112 cannabis plants

• Sex offender faces court

A 79-YEAR-old convicted child sex offender has been sentenced after failing to tell police there were children living at his address.

The Bilambil Heights man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with reporting obligations in Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday.

The man convicted of five offences relating to the indecent assault of a person under 16 in 2013.

Police were alerted to the fact the man’s three grandchildren aged 11, six and four were living at the residence on August 21.

While questioning the man on September 3, he told officers his son’s family had come to stay with him and his wife for the past week after being unable to find other accommodation.

Defence solicitor Tenika Vakauta said it was not an offence for the man to have the grandchildren live with him, it was an offence to not report it to the police within 24 hours.

She said it was an oversight on her client’s behalf instead of intentionally not complying with his obligations under the Child Protection Register.

Police found the man had also not reported his access to the internet and social media accounts through his phone.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy noted the man’s 12-year gap in offending and the fact it was his first breach of failing to comply with reporting in that time during sentencing.

The man was convicted and received a two-year Community Correction Order.

READ MORE: Convicted sex offender found with children at address

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