Cocktail bar snatcher caught in spiral of depression after weight lifting injury, courtroom hears



February 27, 2019 21:05:44

Powerlifter champion Wayne William Howlett has had an internationally successful sports life and admiration collapsed months before climbing into a Hobart nightclub last year, according to the Tasmania Supreme Court.

Key points:

  • Howlett's life has turned into addiction to drugs and depression after a setback in the accident, his lawyer said.
  • The court needs to assess whether Howlett's rehabilitation was more important than community safety, argued the prosecution
  • The gun used by Howlett to fire 25 shots at a bar door was also equipped with a bayonet and was found in a garden bed.

The 38-year-old actor pleaded guilty to recklessly dumping a firearm and property damage at the Pablo's Cocktails and Dream bar at the Hobart CBD in June last year.

Character references presented in support of Howlett include a written by the bar owner, the court heard on Wednesday.

On the night of the shooting, 30 clients were inside the small bar when Howlett – in the company of an unknown accomplice – fired 25 shots from an ex-military semi-automatic rifle into the club's steel door, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor Linda Mason told the court that those inside the bar initially believed the shots were fireworks as part of a nearby festival event.

She told the court that clients were at "real risk of physical harm" from "a prohibited firearm capable of causing significant damage."

Howlett said he had no recollections of the shooting or why he called a cab to his home in north Hobart and traveled to the town bar armed with the combat rifle, at least seven boxes of ammunition and his face stained with red paint. .

His lawyer, Greg Richardson, described his client's actions as "bizarre," the only explanation being Howlett's relapse into drug and alcohol abuse acquired by a sports injury in 2017.

"This is so bizarre, so out of the range of things you would expect it to do … that alone would suggest there is some kind of trigger, which is clearly explained by drugs," Richardson said.

Howlett, a father of three, removed a bicep from the bone in 2017, his lawyer told the court, adding that even after specialized surgery in Melbourne, it was realized that his client would never be able to compete at the same level again.

"Your career, your world, has come to an end," Richardson said. "From 2017, he failed to complete the sport that gave him life."

& # 39; Drug Folders & # 39; after injury, court said

The court heard Howlett had a criminal history fueled by substance abuse, marked by violent crimes – including an attempt to blow up Hobart's forensic laboratory in 2000.

Despite his criminal history, Howlett has committed no offense for more than a decade and has been free of drugs for 17 years, according to the court.

Mr. Richardson said his client was inspired to change his life after being introduced to the sport of powerlifting by a prison guard.

Howlett had gone to sporting success and posted photos of his feats on social networks, sporting a flamboyant lifestyle of luxury cars and private planes and posing with a tiger cub and bear during the holidays.

Richardson told the court that Howlett's inability to compete robbed him of his drive and determination, leading him to depression.

"There was an intense sense of loss," Richardson said. "He succumbed to temptation and began using cocaine very hard, to the point of going for two or three days at a time with drugs."

The SKS semiautomatic rifle, which was equipped with a bayonet, was found in a garden bed on a nearby street after the shooting.

Police also found seven boxes of ammunition, each capable of storing 20 cartridges.

Ms Mason told the court that Howlett's actions "could not be classified as an impetuous crime as it required the firing of that firearm on 25 occasions."

Howlett is trying to convince the court that he should be treated through a drug treatment order.

Crown prosecutor Linda Mason said the court needed to consider whether an order aimed at rehabilitating Howlett's dependence on drugs was more important than community safety and deterring others from behaving in the same way.

Howlett's co-offender was not picked up by the police. Judge Michael Brett said that true remorse on Howlett's behalf would involve a complete disclosure of the identity of his accomplice.

The requests for sentencing were postponed until March.



drug and substance abuse,





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