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'Remarkable' rehab could save addict from jail

An addict who tied up a dealer with telephone cable and subjected him to a prolonged assault over a drug debt has made a ‘‘quite remarkable’’ rehabilitation, a court has heard.

Brian Gregory Walters, 30, faced a sentencing hearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday, for offences of unlawful confinement and assault that prosecutors described as ‘‘serious and horrific’’.

Walters and another man took the dealer to Mount Majura in July last year, after a dispute over a $2500 debt. They tied his hands and feet  using telephone cables and tape.

The pair then left him at Mount Majura, tied up on a cold July night, partially hidden by a log.

Several days later at a northside unit, Walters repeatedly punched, kicked, elbowed, and stomped on the complainant, including on his head, leaving the man with ‘‘significant’’ bruising and swelling.

Walters gave evidence before the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday, and described his struggle with addiction, and the shame and guilt he feels over his crimes. He had been addicted to drugs and alcohol for 18 years, since he was 12 years old, and says he has limited memory of the attack, the court heard.


He was being admitted to hospital twice a month for his alcoholism, and was drinking a case of beer and a bottle of spirits every day, the court heard.

‘‘The only way to describe it was a complete train wreck,’’ he said.

‘‘I wasn’t really the person that I am today. I couldn’t make decisions that were logical. I had no sense of what normal life was.’’

Walters lived with his mother at the time, and spoke of the ‘‘terrible’’ way he treated her during his addiction.

He was aggressive, and would wake her  at night, demanding she give him money to buy drugs.

‘‘I treated my mum with no respect at all. I would stand over her and scream at her if I had no drugs or alcohol, you know, to get money off her,’’ he said.

His mother, who also gave evidence on Tuesday, said she had been ‘‘terrified of him’’.

He began taking ice in the few weeks before he was sent to prison, the court heard, and his mother kicked him out and took out a restraining order against him.

The ice, he said, led to ‘‘massive spikes’’ in anger, and caused him to lose entire days from his memory.

But Walters has since made considerable progress in rehabilitation, which even the prosecution acknowledged was ‘‘extraordinary’’.

He has spent five months with the Salvation Army’s Canberra Recovery Services in his first rehabilitation effort in 18 years of drug and alcohol abuse. He recently spoke in front of 70 to 100  children at Canberra Boys Grammar about his experiences with drugs, and said he now felt a ‘‘willingness to want to change’’.

 ‘‘I know what I’ve done is irreparable and I need to take forward the responsibility to make sure it never happens again,’’ he said.

He said he only had two options –  ‘‘jail or death’’ – if he didn’t live a normal, functional life in the future.

He is due to be sentenced next month.

Both defence barrister Anthony Hopkins and Crown prosecutor Sarah McMurray have called on the court to structure a sentence that would allow Walters to continue with his rehabilitation at Canberra Recovery Services.

Ms McMurray described the crimes as ‘‘serious and horrific’’ and said they fell into the upper end of seriousness for offences of their kind.

But she said the community would be best protected by ensuring Walters continued with his rehabilitation.

Justice Hilary Penfold asked whether either party would oppose her deferring her sentence to allow the court to further monitor his progress at rehabilitation.

The matter will be back before court on August 20.