Flooding at The Royal Hotel in Gympie.
Flooding at The Royal Hotel in Gympie. Contributed/Kerrie Candrick

Drunken looter given probation, community service

A CHATSWORTH man who took advantage of an inundated Mary St business during the Australia Day weekend floods was given six months probation and 80 hours community service in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday.

Chatsworth man Nathan John Caulfield pleaded guilty to stealing by looting from the Royal Hotel during a natural disaster on January 28.

The court heard Caulfield, who has a significant criminal history including an appearance in the district court in 2006, stole alcohol from the Royal while on a pub crawl with his friends.

The group found an office chair in Mary St and took turns riding it into floodwater.

Caulfield then swum into the hotel, which the court heard had its doors left open as a precaution to minimise flood damage.

The court heard a hotel staff member, who was keeping watch at the establishment told Caulfield to leave.

However before exiting the hotel, Caulfield stole some UDL vodka drinks and swam away to take them to dry ground.

He then continued to play in the floodwater and attempted to climb the outside of the Royal to access the second-storey veranda.

The police prosecution described Caulfield's actions as "childish".

"It's a childish offence, it's a silly offence, but it is a serious offence."

The defence said Caulfield, a 25-year-old tree lopper, was drunk at the time of the offence.

They told the court the offence started with "a swim" and ended with him "leaving with something he shouldn't be leaving with".

The defence highlighted that while Caulfield took a few drinks from the hotel, he did not make off with loads of property.

Magistrate Maxine Baldwin considered the theft against the vulnerable business to be "a serious offence".

Caulfield also faced a separate charge of drink driving at Teewah Beach on December 31.

The court heard Caulfield was stopped by police in his car after doing 360s on the beach.

The court heard Caulfield was known to police following an incident earlier in the day.

He returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.139 at Rainbow Beach Police Beat.

Caulfield pleaded guilty to the drink driving charge.

He was fined $1200 and disqualified from driving for nine months, however told the court he hadn't been driving since the charge was laid because he thought he was not allowed to until after he faced court.