Coast base jumpers fined over Brisbane crane attempt

FOUR experienced base jumpers spent a month planning how they would climb scaffolding at a construction site in Brisbane's CBD and then jump from the top of a crane 120 metres from the ground.

Having 385 jumps between them across the United States and Europe where base jumping is allowed, the group thought they would give it a shot in their home city.

They chose a construction site on the corner of Albert and Alice streets and parachuted from the peak of the crane into the city's botanic gardens.

But here base jumping is illegal.

They will collectively pay $1800 in fines for the parachuting feat - $450 each.

Bli Bli men Blake Peter Ashwell, 29, and Benjamin Lindsay Garnsey, 33, Glasshouse Mountains woman Jasmine Alisha Melville, 25, and Deagon man Matthew David Blaiklock, 31, pleaded guilty Sandgate Magistrates Court this morning to unregulated high risk activity.

The court heard they were lucky not to face trespassing charges too.

Police prosecutor Jodie Brennan told the court police caught three of them loading their gear into a car on Lower River Terrace near the Kangaroo Point cliffs soon after they fled over the Goodwill Bridge about 10pm on July 19.

THE crane from which four base jumpers launched themselves in Brisbane.
THE crane from which four base jumpers launched themselves in Brisbane.

Solicitor Rory Cunningham said his clients had no criminal history and were concerned about the consequences for their careers and future travel.

"They wish to assure the court they won't be back before any court in this country for this type of behaviour again," he said.

"All are very experienced sky divers and all are very experienced base jumpers, and have undertaken some professional courses in other jurisdictions such as the United States and Europe where this sort of activity is permitted.

"They are well aware this is not permitted here in this country and the behaviour will not be repeated."

When asked outside court whether the group had any warnings for people considering doing something similar, Garnsey said:  "Follow the proper training as we did and mitigate all the risks".

Mr Cunningham said it was a "highly-planned, well-rehearsed and safe operation".

But he acknowledged that was a double-edged sword because he was saying it was a well-planned unlawful activity.

"They had a high regard to their safety and a high regard to members of the public as well," he said.

"There was a protocol they complied with. There were strict and rigid procedures they complied with. The jump, for want of a better word, a success.

"They are not individuals who willy-nilly went up a tower and jumped."

Magistrate John McGrath said the planning meant the group was not acting opportunistically but noted they considered safety in the preparation.

"This matter seems to be a little unusual in that it wasn't done in an attempt to attract the attention of others," he said.

"It seems to have been a personal event between the group of you."

The court heard Garnsey was a cabinet maker employing about 30 people, Ashwell and Blaiklock were electricians, and Melville was an aircraft maintenance engineer.

Blaiklock, a sky diving instructor, is currently working in abseiling and rope work on high-rise developments.

All are single without children except for Ashwell, who has a partner and four-year-old child.

The court heard they might also face a disciplinary process from the Australian Parachute Federation. - ARM

NEWSDESK

PREVIOUS BASE JUMPS

Benjamin Garnsey: 100

Blake Ashwell: 185

Jasmine Melville: 35

Matthew Blaiklock: 65



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