Drug debt behind shotgun threats to employment agency staff
STAFF of a Gladstone employment agency were threatened to be "blown away" with a shotgun by an angry client who needed welfare money to pay drug dealers.
"I will come down with a shotgun and blow you c**ts away," Cory Austen had threatened, saying he had drug dealers after him.
Police prosecutor Gavin Reece told Gladstone Magistrates Court the staff had become fearful by Austen's angry threats and called police.
Mr Reece said Austen had missed his 9am appointment at the agency and phoned to make another one for the same day.
When told none was available until 4pm Austen became irate and aggressive, insisting he would come in before disconnecting the call.
Mr Reece said Austen rang back 10 minutes later and continued to be aggressive, saying: "I will come down with a shotgun and blow you c**ts away."
Worried by the threats the staffer got a supervisor who told Austen there were now no appointments for that day.
"I will blow you c**ts up. I have drug dealers after me to pay debts," Austen then said.
Mr Reece said the woman told Austen he would miss his Centrelink payment by just one day.
The woman was concerned and shaken by the call and been worried Austen would carry out his threats.
Mr Reece said when police arrested him at home, Austen told them he needed the money to pay "a debt to a guy who he was buying a car off but did not have his name".
Austen denied making threats.
From jail, where he had been returned following his breach of parole imposed for earlier offences, Cory Austen, 25, via video link pleaded guilty to using a telephone to menace and harass staff at Neato employment agency on February 9.
Lawyer Jun Pepito said Austen had been on parole at the time he was charged with this offence.
"He regrets what he said but was frustrated at the time trying to reschedule his appointment," Mr Pepito said.
Magistrate Penelope Hay said Austen did make some partial admissions at the time but had denied key aspects of making the threats.
"You have a lengthy criminal history including this type of offending, it has carried on consistently, offences with violence and you recently received a prison sentence," she said.
Ms Hay told Austen what he did was serious and caused his victims to become concerned for their safety when they were simply doing their best to carry out their work.
"You are lucky they can even get you in on the same day which they were attempting.
"Your conduct was wholly unreasonable."
Ms Hay sentenced Austen to two months jail and set an immediate parole eligibility date, saying this would likely take two months to process.
"Thank you," Austen said.