Afghanistan War stress fuels thefts, driving offences

THE stress and trauma of fighting in Afghanistan was blamed for a Queensland soldier's many driving offences.

He had twice refused to stop for police and had also driven off without paying for fuel.

Tony John Landers appeared in custody via video link before Gladstone Magistrates Court to plead guilty to seven charges, including driving while suspended, stealing, and unlawful use of a motor bike.

Landers gained some empathy from magistrate Barbara Tynan, who issued him with a strong warning not to drive while disqualified because he would likely be jailed.

Defence lawyer Jun Pepito said Landers suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his military deployment in Afghanistan, and said Landers promised to now comply with his medication.

He sought a probation order for his client instead of more jail time.

Ms Tynan said Landers had an "awful traffic history" but until these stealing matters had no criminal offences.

Landers told the court that the three weeks he had spent in custody were not a good experience and had opened his eyes.

Ms Tynan said she would not be able to comprehend what he had gone through in Afghanistan or his personal struggle to get back into the community.

She asked him why he had twice run from the police.

"I don't know. When I saw authority my anxiety would kick in," Landers replied.

"I can't give you an answer."

Landers said he now received a Department of Veterans Affairs pension. He joined the Army in 2008.

Repeating that Landers had an awful traffic history, Ms Tynan asked if he had been a driver in the Army.

"Have you worked out where your speedometer is?" she asked.

"Yes your honour," Landers said.

Landers was fined $365, placed on an 18-month supervised probation order and disqualified from driving for four years.

He was given bail on a methamphetamine possession charge. Ms Tynan then wished him "lots of luck".



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