A “heavy user” of illicit drugs has been jailed for life for murdering a man in a “ridiculous Mexican standoff” on Father’s Day.
Clinton Pollock’s mother Donna wept tears of joy as she left court while her son’s killer Justin John Meale was led away to the cells, more than four years after her son was gunned down outside his Deception Bay home.
Meale had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Pollock – known as “Rocky” – in a heated confrontation late at night on September 2, 2018.
The jury at Brisbane Supreme Court had been sent out on Tuesday following closing submissions from the defence team and prosecution.
The group returned their verdict after less than an hour of deliberation.
Meale, 31, did not show any emotion when the verdict was handed down.
During sentencing submissions Meale’s heinous criminal history – including his “heavy” use of illicit drugs were revealed by Justice Thomas Bradley.
The court was told Meale had been using drugs for at least a week before the murder and “perhaps hadn’t slept”.
Throughout the trial, the Crown contended Meale arrived at Mr Pollock’s house on Thompson Street with a group of men on September 2, 2018.
An unarmed Mr Pollock was fatally shot by Meale with a sawn-off rifle after what was described as a “ridiculous Mexican standoff” between the pair.
Tensions between them had escalated after a drug deal fell through, angering Mr Pollock.
The 35-year-old had sent a barrage of abusive and threatening texts to Meale, including a warning he would “spray” his house with bullets.
Meale later told police he did not intend to kill Mr Pollock.
His defence team argued he fired the trigger in response to Mr Pollock’s “twitchy” movements, believing he was carrying a semiautomatic weapon.
Barrister Greg McGuire had urged members of the jury to consider if his client was acting in self-defence, as he had repeatedly been threatened by the other “lunatic” and knew he had a reputation for violence.
During interviews with police, Meale says he fired the rifle at Mr Pollock because he was “scared” and only wanted “to teach him a lesson”.
“Maybe he was twitching, I don’t know,” he says.
“I hit him in the shoulder … it just happened so quick.”
The court was told Meale suffered significant behavioural and developmental issues as a child and was exposed to trauma.
He had been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome and Autism spectrum disorder.
Justice Thomas Bradley said Meale had only attended part of Year 8 before ceasing his studies.
“From there, you began to use illicit drugs,” he said.
Meale’s interactions with the criminal justice system began when he was only a child.
“You were sentenced for drug-related offences committed from about the time shortly before your 21st birthday,” Justice Bradley said.
In imposing the mandatory life sentence, Justice Bradley said the developmental issues Meale experienced as a child meant he might have been “less mature” than his peers by the time he committed the murder.
Meale had spent 1541 days in pre-sentence custody which was declared as time served.