She was allegedly punched.
She was allegedly punched.

'Vigilante': Girlfriend screams as Barney Point stabber meets fate

JURORS were made to wait inside a courthouse for their own safety, after delivering the verdict that saw a Gladstone man sent to jail for at least three years.

Robert Jamie Cleland, 46, was found guilty in Gladstone District Court of grievous bodily harm and unlawful wounding, for stabbing Peter Wilson in the chest and arm during a street fight at Barney Point on January 24 last year.

Cleland's partner wept in the courtroom as the verdict was handed down, but had a change in attitude when the sentencing concluded.

Waiting outside the courthouse, Ms James allegedly yelled profanities and made threats towards jurors, a prosecutor and court staff.

Jurors were told by the bailiff to wait inside until she had left.

Ms James was escorted away by a friend before police arrived, and The Observer understands she has not been charged over the incident.

It took jurors about nine hours to deliver Cleland's guilty verdict, with questions they asked the judge indicating they were grappling with issues of self defence and accidental wounding.

Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker had alleged Cleland deliberately stabbed Mr Wilson as an act of revenge, after Mr Wilson allegedly punched Ms James in the face.

However, Cleland's defence barrister Tom Polley alleged Mr Wilson had been the aggressor in the fight, and Cleland had accidentally stabbed Mr Wilson while trying to defend himself.

After the verdict was handed down, Judge Michael Burnett said he agreed with the jury's decision.

"It would have taken some effort to open the knife (that formed part of a multi-tool)," Judge Burnett said.

"Considering the length of the fight (less than 10 seconds), I just don't see how there could be any inference other than that he intended to use the tool and to stab.

"This in my mind was intentional."

Tracey James and Robert Jamie Cleland leave Gladstone Courthouse on January 25.
Tracey James and Robert Jamie Cleland leave Gladstone Courthouse on January 25.

Judge Burnett condemned Cleland's actions, which he labelled "vigilante conduct".

Mr Wilson was airlifted to Rockhampton Hospital on January 24 following the stabbing.

Medical reports submitted as trial evidence said Mr Wilson's chest injury was life threatening, and caused his right lung to collapse.

During the trial Mr Wilson testified the injuries caused him ongoing health problems.

Mr Polley alleged to the judge during sentencing that Mr Wilson had repeatedly threatened his client and Ms James, including in the courthouse during the trial.

He said the alleged threats had been reported to police.

Cleland was sentenced to six years in jail, and will be eligible for parole after three years.

Judge Burnett said Cleland had a history of violent offending, including multiple assaults on police, and he was lucky not to be declared a serious violent offender on this occasion.

Mr Wilson is before the court for his own alleged involvement in the January 24 incident.

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