A Queensland man was subjected to “harrowing cruelty” for hours by a couple who beat him, shocked him and shot him in the testicles with a gel blaster.
Mark Donald McDonald and Helena Irene Wigfull were handed jail terms at Brisbane District Court on Friday for their respective roles in detaining the 23-year-old victim and viciously assaulting him at their Darra home last year.
While Wigfull walked free immediately on parole, McDonald’s sentence was added onto a term of imprisonment already being served for unrelated drug matters.
The pair pleaded guilty to deprivation of liberty, common assault and two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed on Wednesday.
McDonald also pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, possessing a relevant substance and additional counts of common assault and assault occasioning bodily harm while armed.
Judge Gary Long said the pair targeted their victim at a friend’s house over a perceived debt recovery in July 2019.
Wigfull was driving the car when McDonald, armed with a tyre iron, forced the victim into the back seat, engaging the child locks so he couldn’t escape.
The pair took the victim to a granny flat at their Darra home, forcing him to strip down to his shirt and underwear.
“Wigfull asked about ‘ripping us off again’ and McDonald struck the complainant in the knee with a tyre iron,” Judge Long said.
“You called your children into the unit and told the complainant to tell them (the children) what had been taken from them.”
Over the course of several hours, McDonald punched the complainant, struck him with a tyre iron – causing his head to split open – and zapped his arms and legs with a cattle prod.
A gel blaster was used to shoot him “repeatedly” in the chin, arms, chest, legs and testicles.
Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker had earlier told the court McDonald was the “primary driver” of the violence and Wigfull came and went through the evening.
A photo of the stripped-down victim was sent to his ex-partner before McDonald phoned his family, demanding a transfer of $5000.
Police attended the residence the next morning and found the man, still in his underwear, under a pile of clothes.
All the weapons and a glass bottle containing gamma butyrolactone (GBL) was discovered.
Wigfull told police the events had occurred over debt recovery and said she had consumed methylamphetamine the night before.
McDonald, however, attempted to give a false account when interviewed.
The court was told on Wednesday the pair had since separated.
“There is a collection of serious offending, particularly in the persistence and cruelty of McDonald’s behaviour towards the complainant,” Judge Long said.
“There is an element of retribution or vigilantism.”
Judge Long told Wigfull her offending was secondary to McDonald’s but she still played a role in supporting and encouraging his violence.
He took into account her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder while working as an undertaker and her attempts to undergo rehabilitation.
Wigfull received two years’ jail for the offending and secured immediate parole, with 127 days spent in pre-sentence custody until her release on bail declared as time served.
McDonald received three-and-a-half years’ jail but his sentence was added onto an existing four-and-a-half year sentence handed down by the Supreme Court.
“The protracted nature of your offending and obviously harrowing cruelty directed at the victim and the fact that it extended to extortion directed to his wider family must be reflected in the sentence,” Judge Long said.
McDonald will be eligible for parole in May 2022.
Judge Long said he had otherwise become a compliant prisoner and would have strong family support when released from custody.