Hire-car arsonist who led cops on chase wins appeal

AN ARSONIST who led police on a wild car chase near Ipswich will be released from jail next week after successfully appealing his sentence.

Bundamba man Matthew James Maclure, 27, had drugs and weapons in his car when he sped away from police on the Warrego Hwy at Brassall last February.

He crossed over to the wrong side of the road and drove at speed for nearly 2km before jumping out of the car and running to a nearby paddock where he and his passenger were later arrested.

At the time he was already subject to a three-year suspended jail sentence for torching a hire car that he had crashed.

He pleaded guilty in June last year and was sentenced to 10 months in jail but allowed immediate parole given the time he had already served behind bars.

Four months later, however, Brisbane District Court found the offending had breached Maclure's former three-year suspended sentence.

The presiding judge activated the sentence and set a parole release date for April 20 this year.

It was later revealed however that the judge wrongly believed they had the power to fix a parole date when in fact, only a parole eligibility date could be set.

This meant that should the parole board see fit, Maclure could be forced to serve the remainder of the three-year sentence behind bars.

He appealed on the grounds the sentence was therefore "manifestly excessive".

He also claimed the second judge had failed to take into account "positive changes" he made while on parole during which time he remained on the right side of the law and sought mental health support.

Lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions argued that despite the error, the sentence was not excessive given Maclure's extensive criminal and traffic history which included past breaches of parole.

But the Court of Appeal found the judge's misguided belief had impacted on the discretion they may have used when activating the suspended sentence.

The original sentence was set aside.

Instead, two years of the suspended sentence was activated.

Maclure will be released on parole on Thursday of next week.

- ARM NEWSDESK



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