A former elite rugby league player arrested after a methylamphetamine-fuelled aggravated burglary in which he hacked at his victim multiple times with a machete has been jailed for more than eight years.
Appearing for sentence on Thursday in the ACT Supreme Court before Justice David Mossop, 36-year-old Joshua Stephen previously had pleaded guilty to multiple charges including inflicting grievous bodily harm, aggravated burglary, possession of a prohibited firearm, driving a motor vehicle without consent and driving while disqualified.
Justice Mossop said Stephen had inflicted "shocking" injuries to "an innocent person, minding his own business".
Stephen was a champion motocross rider and at age 19 had been identified a potential Canberra Raiders player.
The court was told that on June 26 last year Stephen had stolen two sets of car keys from the victim's house and driven away in a Mazda MX-5 sports car, which the victim later described as his "showpiece and investment".
Stephen returned to the same address four nights later in company with a female co-offender, intent on stealing the victim's second sports car, a Mazda RX-8.
Around 3.30am, as the victim was asleep in another part of the house, Stephen broke into the house and began ransacking the premises.
Once he had located the RX-8 in a secure carport, Stephen started up the car's rotary engine.
The engine noise woke the victim, a 36-year-old man, who confronted Stephen. He saw the offender's machete and closed a glass sliding door between them to protect himself.
Stephen swung the machete, shattered the glass door and then began striking the victim multiple times with the machete, hitting him on the head, face, hands and both arms.
The victim tried to defend himself with a tomahawk but suffered multiple wounds, including a partially severed ear and deep cuts that exposed the bones and tendons on his right hand. He suffered 43 defensive wounds in all and was triaged at the Canberra Hospital as a Category One patient.
Justice Mossop described the photographs of the wounds as "very confronting" and of a "grave nature".
Physical evidence was later recovered by police, including the machete, blood-stained gloves and a backpack, which were DNA-linked to the offender.
Justice Mossop said during sentencing that to inflict such injuries was "shocking" and there had to be recognition of the harm done to the victim, who "was an innocent person, minding his own business" and had now lost his job with the Queanbeyan-Palerang council because the surgery had shortened the tendons in his hand and he can no longer perform the same physical tasks as before.
He also noted that the offender had a lengthy criminal history and long-term substance abuse issues, injecting intravenously from the age of 30 and consuming one gram of methylamphetamine a day.
Stephen will not be eligible for parole until November 2024.