Updated on September 7, 2020.
Attorney Richard Lawson represented the Joondalup Police Station firebomber, Ryan Thomas Jones, in the court of Chief Judge Antoinette Kennedy.
On the surface, the case appeared very cut and dry. Mr Jones stole a Holden Rodeo that carried 200 litres of fuel and had an accomplice at the ready with a getaway car. Jones crashed the ute backwards into the doors of the Reid Avenue Police Station then set the spilled fuel on fire.
Fortunately, none of the four officers in the building at the time sustained severe injuries. The damage amounted to 1.5 million dollars.
Although his client pled guilty on two counts of criminal damage and one count of reckless driving, Attorney Lawson, of Lawson Legal, highlighted the mitigating circumstances of his client’s case.
These factors include:
- Mr Jones struggles with mental illness and has done so since he was 14 years-old
- Witnesses confirmed that Mr Jones’ mental health appeared to worsen during the months leading up to the fire
- Mr Jones’ parents were troubled by his behaviour and at one point had him arrested
- Mr Jones believed the police were out to get him and had bugged his phone, had a police helicopter follow him and placed a transmitter on his buttocks
- Mr Jones self-medicated with amphetamines and cannabis for years before his paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis
Chief Judge Kennedy said that because of these unique circumstances surrounding Mr Jones and his behaviour, Jones’ sentence would be five years instead of the typical ten-year starting point for this sort of crime.
Calling the crime serious and an attack on a government building that represents community law and order, Chief Judge Kennedy said without Jones’ history of mental illness he would have received a much greater sentence.
Attorney Lawson’s diligence in research and wise counsel put Mr Jones in the position where he can receive help and healing, not merely punishment.