1 man, 55 burglary convictions, 10 years in jail

Damon Matthew James Tait, 36, has dozens of property crime convictions on his criminal record. He's pleaded guilty to fresh charges in Mackay Magistrates Court.
Damon Matthew James Tait, 36, has dozens of property crime convictions on his criminal record. He's pleaded guilty to fresh charges in Mackay Magistrates Court. Facebook

A CAREER criminal from Mackay with almost 60 burglary-related convictions on his record has spent nearly a third of his life behind bars.

Damon Matthew James Tait, 36, has also been involved in at least five car thefts over the years and has an extensive history of stealing and drug crime.

When he faced court yet again on Thursday from prison, pleading guilty to 19 more charges, his lawyer indicated the latest convictions may be linked to cognitive impairment suffered in a "horrific assault" in Cairns in August last year.

Tait suffered "fractures to 30 bones" and was on "life support for nine days", before his eyes flickered open as the machines keeping him alive were about to be shut off, defence solicitor Peter Clark told the court. Apparently, that was a "wake-up call" for Tait.

But prosecutor Anna Ellis noted there was no medical evidence to support the theory Tait's recidivist offending was this time influenced by cognitive injuries from the savage beating - just a reference from a prison social worker.

Tait's latest crimes - a reflection of his history - include break and enter, and burglary, between July 9-20 in North Mackay and car theft between July 15-21 in South Mackay.

He's also confessed to multiple charges of possessing knives in public, drug possession, failing to appear and failing to dispose of a needle or syringe.

Ms Ellis submitted Tait had made "no real attempts at rehabilitation" and his latest offences were committed just two days after his release from prison on parole, while on a suspended sentence.

She said Tait had been given every opportunity by the courts to amend his ways, but his "lengthy and continuing history" made community protection "paramount".

Tait spent almost two years in jail before sentence, and has spent about 10 years of his life in prison due to his continual criminal activity, the court was told.

Mr Clark, of Strutynski Law, detailed Tait's past, which included several years in a government institution as a young child, after his biological parents "gave him up".

Tait then lived with a couple with "high expectations" and fell into drug use when he was young.

"Since that time he's found it hard to break the shackles of his offending behaviour, Mr Clark said.

"In August, 2016 he was the subject of a horrific assault. And as a result of that assault he sustained fractures to 30 bones. He admitted to Townsville (Hospital), where he was put on life support for nine days.

"Ultimately, the decision was made to turn the machines off and his eyes opened.

"The significance of that event to the defendant is that he says that it's truly life-changing and he wishes to make a fresh start. It's a bit of a cliche, the situation, your honour."

Mr Clark said Tait was due to "give evidence in respect of two of the people charged, arising from that assault".

The lawyer also provided the references, including from the prison mental health worker, in which she detailed drug-induced psychosis, post traumatic stress disorder and cognitive impairment.

Mr Clark added Tait was "out of his mind on drugs" during his latest spree - "a current and constant theme".

Tait planned to look for work as a welder or boilermaker on his release from jail.

Magistrate Scott Luxton adjourned the sentencing until October 6 for consideration.

Topics:  break and enter burglary cairns car theft mackay mackay court mackay crime mackay magistrates court mackay police queensland police service

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