A Mackay man has faced court after hospital staff found his explanations suspicious. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards
A Mackay man has faced court after hospital staff found his explanations suspicious. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards

Why criminal would not explain extensive burns to his body

A Mackay man found himself in a hot mess after he could not explain to hospital staff how he suffered burns to 20 per cent of his body.

Mackay Supreme Court heard on Thursday how Dieter Dean Stephens presented at Mackay Base Hospital's emergency department at 11am on August 21, 2019.

The 23-year-old was taken to intensive care with face, eyes, neck, hands and feet injuries.

"Fortunately, your airways were not compromised," Justice Graeme Crow said.

The court heard when Stephens could not explain the burns, hospital security alerted police.

"Police attended hospital and recognised you from CCTV footage obtained in the course of an investigation," Justice Crow said.

"You told them you'd been burned in a bushfire and you refused to state where."

The court heard Stephens had knowingly come into possession of a stolen work ute.

He then drove it into mangroves at the end of Horse and Jockey Rd and used a rag and petrol to set it alight.

"Of course, in doing so, you suffered serious burns to your face and body."

After police found the ute the next day on August 22, they arrested and charged Stephens with receiving stolen property, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and arson.

The total settlement cost for the damaged HiLux was $31,000.

Stephens received parole to once again land himself in trouble months later.

Justice Crow said on January 23, police executed a search warrant at his property and found a clipseal bag containing methylamphetamines with a street value between $1500 and $2507 and 7.8 per cent purity.

He said police arrested and charged Stephens with possessing more than 2g of a dangerous drug.

Stephens was released and rearrested on April 9 after police confirmed his DNA was on the clipseal bag.

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He completed a drug rehabilitation program while in pre-sentence custody.

Defence barrister Scott McLennan, instructed by Fisher Dore Lawyers, said his client planned to live with his sister upon release and had already lined up work.

He asked for Justice Crow to consider an immediate release.

"(Stephen) is someone in my submission who has shown some promise in the past," Mr McLennan said.

"He's been waylaid by methylamphetamine use," Mr McLennan said.

"He's stopped using while he's been in custody."

But Justice Crow said it was not the first instance of Stephens' drug addiction, with a previous stint in 2016 that pushed him to move away to Tasmania before returning to Mackay in 2018.

"You made the grave mistake in late 2019 in starting to use methylamphetamines again and it has the usual effect on young people such as yourselves," Justice Crow told him.

"You dropped out of society, you stopped working.

"You then commenced a relationship with (your girlfriend) who was a heavy drug user as well".

"The offending that you've committed and pleaded guilty to is very serious."

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Justice Crow said he took into account Stephens' young age, remorse, burns and employment opportunity.

He sentenced Stephens to three years jail but was immediately on parole after 266 days in pre-sentence custody.

He must submit to drug tests, reporting and visits.

"Expect that if you go back to using methylamphetamines, that your life will be ruined," Justice Crow said.

Stephens must soon return to court to face more than 20 other charges.