‘They were going to punish me’: Why man lied to police

IN A bid to save his own skin from "punishment" at the hands of a friend and his brother, Frederick Rick Fortier lied to police on two separate occasions, supplying a false statement to police, and encouraging his mates to do the same.

The defendant stood in the docks of the Dalby District Court on Wednesday, pleading guilty to two counts of attempting to pervert justice in October 2018.

Crown prosecutor James Bishop told the court at 2.30am on October 1, police were conducting patrols when they saw Fortier's car and attempted to intercept by turning their lights on behind the vehicle.

Fortier was a passenger in the vehicle, and the car was being driven by his 22-year-old friend.

The car did not stop for police, and soon after they ceased their chase.

The car was later seen at 2.38am travelling west on the Ipswich Motorway.

During a sentencing hearing, Fortier and the driver gave conflicting evidence over what went on when police tried to stop the car.

During the examination in chief with Mr Bishop, the driver of the car told the court the pair had driven to Brisbane to pick up some "rock" because the driver used to be a "bad junkie".

The driver said when they saw police lights behind them on their way back to Chinchilla, the driver told Fortier he wanted to run from the police as he was driving with a disqualified licence, and was under the influence of drugs.

The driver told the court Fortier had responded to him saying, "do what you have to do".

He said when they reached Chinchilla, they took the number plates off the car, and took it to the defendant's house.

During his cross-examination, defence lawyer David Jones noted the pair had driven to a service station before driving to the defendant's home to refuel, and the pair went through back roads to get back to Chinchilla.

Mr Jones suggested a phone call was made to the driver's older brother, who instructed Fortier and the driver to drive through the back roads, and to remove the plates off the car, which the driver denied.

But in the witness box, Fortier gave a different account of the evening's events, saying he told the driver it wasn't a good idea to run from the police.

Fortier told the court the driver had called his brother on the defendant's phone twice where he instructed them to take the back roads home to Chinchilla, to take the plates off the car, and register them as stolen with police the next day.

Fortier said the driver's brother told him, "make sure nothing happens to my brother".

The defendant told the court he thought he would have been "punished" by the drivers brother if he did not follow his instructions.

Fortier's first attempt at perverting justice came when he removed the plates off his car, the court heard, and delivered a false statement to police, saying his plates had been stolen along with his wallet, as instructed by the driver and his brother.

For the second charge of attempting to pervert justice, Fortier obtained five statutory declaration forms and asked five of his friends to fill them out, and give false statements that supported his statement to police.

Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren told the court Fortier's version of events seemed more probable, as he had nothing to lose by being intercepted and interviewed by police after they started to pursue them.

The driver, however, knew he was driving when he shouldn't have been, and therefore was facing severe punishment if he had been intercepted.

Judge Horneman-Wren accepted it was likely Fortier had felt threatened by the statement the driver's brother made over the phone, and had felt obliged to follow his orders.

As for the second charge of perverting justice, the judge acknowledged the defendant did have something to gain by asking his friends to lie for him.

Mr Jones told the court his client had committed the second charge as an act of "self-preservation".

When giving the court background information about his client, Mr Jones said Fortier had been through a "tragedy" when he was younger, after a jerry can exploded and Fortier and his four-year-old brother sustained serious burns to their body.

Mr Jones said Fortier's family believed he turned to drugs to cope with ongoing remorse and guilt for the incident.

In his sentencing Judge Horneman-Wren said Fortier's prospects for rehabilitation seemed quite good.

For the two offences, Fortier was sentenced to six months and 12 months imprisonment respectively, to be service concurrently.

He was released immediately on parole.

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