Three year old girl in house during 'revenge shooting'
By Sam McKeith
A SOUTH Grafton man will spend a maximum seven years behind bars for firing a rifle at a Grafton home in 2016 in a targeted revenge attack.
Jason Michael Stewart, 26, was found guilty at a jury trial in August of firing at a dwelling house with disregard for safety over a shooting in the northern NSW town in the early hours of October 4, 2016.
Stewart, disguised with material wrapped around his head, was found to have discharged a rifle with a telescopic sight at the South Grafton residence, with the bullet striking a wall near a doorway.
Several people were nearby when the shooting occurred, including a three-year-old girl who was inside the house at the time it was fired on.
The court found that Stewart went to the South Grafton residence armed with the rifle to "teach a lesson" after being told that his girlfriend's son had been the victim of a robbery.
On Monday, Acting Judge Colin O'Connor handed Stewart a maximum jail term of seven years, with a non-parole period of four years and six months over the shooting.
In sentencing, Acting Judge O'Conner said Stewart's conduct was motivated "out of a sense of revenge" and fell at the high end of the offence's middle range.
"This was a serious offence, there was a degree of planning by the offender, it was not a random attack," the judge said.
"The offender was in close proximity to those present when he discharged the firearm.
"There is always a potential for a bullet to ricochet with dire consequences."
The judge said a "significant sentence" was needed given the severe degree of recklessness involved in what he termed an "indiscriminate use" of a firearm.
"No other punishment other than imprisonment is appropriate," he said.
He took into account Stewart's "extensive" criminal record including convictions for goods in custody, larceny, driving while disqualified and break and enter, but said this was his first "offence of violence".
He also noted a psychologist report that found Stewart was "raised in a dysfunctional environment" marked by abuse and neglect, with his family at times having to rely on the Salvation Army for food.
The court was told Stewart relapsed into substance use 24 hours before the shooting after using cannabis from the age of 14 and being a daily cocaine user in his early 20s as part of a "party lifestyle".
Acting Judge O'Connor said while Stewart posed a medium to high risk of reoffending, a "glimmer of hope" of rehabilitation existed given his relatively young age.
With time already served, Stewart will be eligible for parole on May 21, 2021.