A former soldier who served for nine months as a rifleman on the frontlines in Afghanistan had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome when he was discharged from the army, but spent years self-medicating with ice before a crime spree that included assaulting and detaining his partner, making bombs and smashing his way into homes.
Shaun Kenneth Warrington, 36, was sentenced to eight years in jail with a non-parole period of four years in Newcastle District Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a raft of charges including serious domestic violence and weapons counts.
Judge Roy Ellis said Warrington had done "a lot of terrible things", but that there was "a causal link" between not receiving adequate care for PTSD when he was discharged by the Australian Defence Force in 2011, his subsequent drug use and the crimes he committed in November and December, 2019.
The court heard of multiple incidents in which he assaulted his then-partner - in one instance forcing her into a car and hitting her repeatedly with her mobile phone and a knife that was inside a protective cover. In another incident he refused to let her leave her home for several hours, making her cook for him while degrading her.
Judge Ellis recounted an occasion where Warrington followed a car containing the woman and a friend at the Junction, eventually blocking their way and standing on the bonnet of the trapped vehicle.
But it was on December 29, 2019, that the chaos came to an end, when Warrington smashed his way through the door of a home belonging to a 70-year-old woman at Aberdare, before doing the same at another residence nearby.
Court documents say the 69-year-old man in the second home trapped Warrington under the door that he had burst through until police arrived.
Warrington claimed at the time he was being chased.
He was placed in an induced coma soon after his arrest because of the effects of ice and heat stroke.
Police searched the home of Warrington's sister, where he had been storing some belongings.
Investigators found a rifle, ammunition, a silencer and two improvised explosive devices - a homemade pipe bomb and a glass jar containing nails, a fuse and a detonator. Court documents said the pipe bomb would cause "major, widespread damage and injury" if detonated.
On Wednesday, Warrington said he was setting off explosives in bushland to see how close he could get without hurting himself. He told the court he was "disgusted" with his actions.
"It's all I can do now - try and be better than the day before," he said.
Judge Ellis said an armed forces culture of not admitting to fear or perceived weakness meant Warrington spent years after his time in the military not getting proper treatment for the trauma caused by his service in Afghanistan.
Defence barrister Nicolas Moir said his client had been discharged from the army after his frontline service with PTSD and "a bottle of tablets".
Crown prosecutor Brendan Queenan said the defence force "really has not acted in the best interests of the community" in Warrington's case.
In a statement, Warrington's defence lawyer Drew Hamilton said: "The tragedy in this matter is the total lack of support for veterans who become sick, having put their lives on the line for this country which then become the burden on our community".
Warrington will be first eligible for release in December, 2023.
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