Jail for ‘vicious’ Inglewood home invasion over drug debt

BEHIND BARS: Ryan Murray Johnstone is one of two men jailed yesterday for a brutal home invasion last year.
BEHIND BARS: Ryan Murray Johnstone is one of two men jailed yesterday for a brutal home invasion last year. Paige Ashby

TWO men who were part of a group that brutalised a father and his two sons during a violent home invasion were retaliating over a $480 drug debt.

Damien James Lane and Ryan Murray Johnstone were two of six men who entered an Inglewood property last October armed with baseball bats.

The Warwick District Court heard Lane, 24, had approached one of the men and asked "where is my money?" before punching him repeatedly.

Two other men joined in the attack before Lane produced a baseball bat, striking the victim on his hands as he attempted to shield his face.

The victim's brother and father were both punched and hit with baseball bats as they attempted to stop the brutality.

Johnstone, 28, conceded being involved in punching the victims during the home invasion but was not armed with a baseball bat.

Lane has a five-page criminal history, consisting of offences including assault, armed robbery and burglary, and Johnstone's criminal history spanned three pages.

Judge Brendan Butler said the men both were "fortunate" the victims' injuries were not more significant.

"Given that weapons were used, the injuries could have been much greater - you're fortunate in that," he said.

"Mr Lane, you come before the court with a very serious criminal history and it does aggravate the offending that is before me.

"Mr Johnstone, you're 28 and you're beyond a youth - it's time that this sort of behaviour is put behind you.

"(Your family) must be very disappointed to see you in the dock today.

"I hope you bear that in mind and stay out of trouble in the future."

Defence counsel for the men told the court Lane and Johnstone were remorseful and that Lane had taken steps towards rehabilitation while behind bars.

Johnstone had spent about six months in pre-sentence custody and Lane had served about 200 days.

The Stanthorpe men each pleaded guilty to three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed and in company and one of burglary with violence while in company.

Lane was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' jail. Taking into account time already served, he will be eligible for parole on January 19, 2016.

Johnstone was sentenced to the same period but will be released on parole on February 19, 2016.

Topics:  crime drugs home invasion jail

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