FIRE HELL T OA JAIL CELL

By KEN SAPWELL

A BAD week suddenly got worse for house fire victim Geoff Bennie yesterday when a magistrate sentenced him to three months in jail.

Bennie, 46, appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court sporting two black eyes and minor burns to plead guilty to a charge of intimidating a police officer.

Carrying his wordly possessions in a brown paper bag, Bennie made an impassioned but unsuccesful plea for leniency.

''I've been through a house fire and I was lucky to get out alive,'' said Bennie, who was treated at Tweed Heads hospital following a blaze last Tuesday which destroyed his home in Peninsula Drive, Terranora.

''I suffered some injuries and my arms were burnt.''

But magistrate Jeff Linden said Bennie's long history of anti-social behaviour left him no alternative but to send him to Grafton jail.

In a statement of facts police said they were called to a restaurant at West Tweed Heads at 9.45pm on March 11 following complaints about a man begging for cigarettes and abusing patrons.

Police said they found Bennie sitting at a bus stop nearby and asked him to move on. But as he was walking away he allegedly said: ''I'll be waiting for you and so will a bullet.''

Police said they arrested and handcuffed Bennie and by the time he arrived at the police station some sores on his wrist were bleeding.

Bennie allegedly said: ''I have Hep C and I hope you all get it it.''

He admitted yesterday making the Hep C comment but denied making any threats about a bullet.

Mr Linden said he was satisfied the threats were made and described them as ''less than charming''. He did not set a non-parole period.



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