‘Show some respect’: 8 times Gympie magistrate snapped back
FOR many of Gympie’s criminal offenders, the buck stops with Magistrate Chris Callaghan, who oversees the hundreds of matters a year, not only in Gympie but across several courts in southeast Queensland.
Here’s a list of eight times Mr Callaghan snapped back at rude defendants, put them in their place, or ordered them to show respect in his courtroom.
1. Woman accused of spitting ordered to show respect
A Gympie woman accused of spitting on a police officer among other charges, sat crying in the dock of the Gympie Magistrates Court after being held in the watch house overnight.
When Mr Callaghan addressed the woman, Patrisha Hofferts, 56, she refused to stand up, and ranted about how she had been mistreated and was being held against her will.
Mr Callaghan told her that was how being arrested works, and said most people in a watch house would feel held against their will.
He ordered her to stand up and show respect to him and the court.
She continued crying and interrupting throughout the proceedings, until she was granted bail until her next appearance.
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2. Magistrate snaps back at offender claiming chemotherapy gave him brain damage
Appearing from custody in the Gympie Magistrates Court, Chase Shorthouse pleaded guilty this week to several offences including stealing, public masturbation, drug possession and more.
His lawyer, Chris Anderson, told the court Shorthouse, who continuously interrupted the proceedings, was “by no means a sophisticated person.”
“I had leukaemia at a young age. I had chemotherapy. I lost my mind,” Shorthouse interrupted at one point.
“That’d be a first,” Mr Callaghan quipped.
Later during the proceedings, as Mr Callaghan was delivering his sentence, Shorthouse continued to speak over him. .
“This is not a conversation. I’m giving you my reasons,” Mr Callaghan snapped.
“Just be quiet and listen.”
3. Magistrate slams serial offender: ‘When will you grow up?’
A serial offender who had lost his licence eight times in 10 months before appearing before the court in August was slammed for his childish behaviour.
Mr Callaghan told Max William Bourbard Junior, 37, his inability to follow court orders meant he would be heading to jail for the next four months.
“When is he going to grow up?” Mr Callaghan asked the man’s lawyer.
“This is the behaviour of an adolescent.”
4. Man, 19, calls magistrate a ‘d---head’
Mr Callaghan charged a teenage Jennson Maxwell McEwan with being in contempt of court in 2018, after the young man launched a verbal tirade of abuse against the magistrate.
The foul-mouthed defendant, after apologising for yet another tirade in a previous appearance, called Mr Callaghan a “d---head”, dropped the f-bomb several times, and said the magistrate was “doing his head in.”
“There you go again,” Mr Callaghan replied.
Mr Callaghan sentenced him to spend one month in prison on the contempt of court charge, and he was also fined $500 after pleading guilty to one charge of possessing less than a gram of marijuana, and two for trespassing and squatting at a Gympie property.
5. “You keep that up and you’ll end up in the dock.”
A 70-year-old man charged with assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, possession of a knife in a public place and contravening a domestic violence order on two occasions hurled abuse and rude gestures at Mr Callaghan during an appearance.
During the appearance the defendant argued with and interrupted the magistrate continuously.
“I’ve been treated more like I murdered someone than just a simple assault,” the defendant said.
“I didn’t assault any damn one. I’ll work things out. This is ridiculous.”
“Just be quiet and listen to me, I’m not listening to your discussion,” Mr Callaghan said.
“I’m not listening to you either,” came the reply.
“You keep that up and you’ll end up in the dock.”
The defendant was still lashing out as he left the courtroom.
“For the record (the man) just held his fist up to me through the window. I don’t wish any action taken,” Mr Callaghan said.
6. “No one ever seems to like weed”
After hearing countless defences of people using marijuana purely for medicinal purposes, Mr Callaghan questioned why no one ever seems to use it for enjoyment.
In 2019, during the sentencing of a 64-year-old man for possessing marijuana, the man’s lawyer claimed he used the drug to treat back pain, prompting Mr Callaghan to interrupt.
“No-one that ever comes before these courts uses it for enjoyment,” Mr Callaghan said.
“I wonder why that is.
“Everyone’s got anxiety problems or a bad back.”
“I’ve passed that now,” Rushbrooke replied.
“You’ve passed that now? Well, it mustn’t be a very enjoyable drug, no-one that ever gets caught with it does it for enjoyment,” Mr Callaghan said.
7. ‘Hey, get in the dock’: magistrate stomps on disrespect
It took only about 10 minutes of confinement to bring about a new and more respectful attitude from one young man who found himself the centre of attention in Gympie Magistrates Court in early 2018.
“Of course,” Magistrate Chris Callaghan said when asked by prosecuting sergeant Lisa Manns if she could ask two men in the public gallery to be quiet.
“You can go outside,” he told the two amused young men.
“Better than listening to this s--t anyway,” one of them said as he left the courtroom.
“Hey, get back here,” the magistrate called out as Sgt Manns left to detain the young man, who gave his name as Joshua Hill.
As Hill was brought back into the court, Mr Callaghan gave him further advice on courtroom etiquette.
“Get your hat off your head, get your drink away and get in there,” Mr Callaghan said, indicating the dock.
8. ‘Is that a threat?’ Shocking confrontation in Gympie court
Threats of a high court appeal and treason charges against Mr Callaghan were part of a shocking confrontation in Gympie Magistrates Court last year.
While contesting a court order that he pay compensation for a domestic violence assault, Price Adam Hill, then 49, challenged Mr Callaghan’s authority, threatened him with legal action, and yelled over the top of him.
He repeatedly interrupted Mr Callaghan as Mr Callaghan attempted to remand him.
“Mr Hill, do not interrupt me,” Mr Callaghan said.
“What’s your name?” Hill asked.
“My name’s Callaghan. I will speak and you will be quiet, otherwise you’ll end up over there,” Mr Callaghan said, indicating the courtroom dock.
At that point a woman in the public gallery told Mr Callaghan he did not have legal authority to give such orders. “This is a people’s court,” she said.
Mr Callaghan: “Don’t talk from the back of the court madam. Who are you?”
“I don’t have to tell you who I am, but this is a people’s court,” she said. “You don’t have authorisation to just throw demands at people like that.”
“You don’t have jurisdiction to even process this,” Mr Hill said.
Mr Callaghan: “Right, you will come back to this court …”
Hill: “Is that a threat? Or is it an order or is it voluntary?”
Mr Callaghan: “You are remanded to appear … “
Hill: “A threat again. Otherwise there’ll be another warrant for my arrest, is that it?
Mr Callaghan: “ … at 9am on 16 December, 2019.”
Hill: “Is that a threat?”
Mr Callaghan: “I don’t care how you want to describe it, sir. Go away.”
Hill: “Go away? This is a court. This is what youse should be doing, going away.
“I’ll have you charged with treason,” Hill said.
“You do that,” Mr Callaghan said.