A man who tried to kill a teenage girl in an Aldi supermarket by hunting her “like an animal” with a compound bow and arrow will spend the next ten years and six months in prison.
Benjamin Jeremy Bourke, 28, pleaded guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday to the attempted murder of a teenage girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in September 2020 at an Aldi shopping center in Booval, west of Brisbane.
Crown Prosecutor Matt Le Grand told the court that when Bourke left his Bundamba home on September 20, 2020, he was armed with the compound bow, two knives, and three small sledge hammers.
Bourke had an argument with his housemate earlier in the day and decided to end his life, according to the court.
Le Grand stated that his solution was to have the police shoot him, and he devised a strategy to accomplish that goal.
“He decided to take a life; he just didn’t know which life,” Le Grand explained.
Bourke was wearing a mask, a hoodie, and full-length pants, according to the court.
CCTV footage shown in court showed Bourke armed with a compound bow walking from Booval Railway Station down South Station Rd.
Le Grand stated that Bourke considered “choosing” to shoot a mother with her small child “as his target,” but instead chose to attack someone else.
The CCTV footage also showed Bourke firing his compound bow at an Indigenous woman who was jogging nearby but the arrow missed her.
“His reason for (shooting at her) was that the woman was indigenous, and he didn’t like indigenous (people),” Le Grand explained.
Le Grand said Bourke continued onto the shopping precinct as “there would be more witnesses at the shops.”
“Causing an alarm was part of Mr. Bourke’s plan,” he said.
“It’s when he reached the Aldi shop, he found his target.”
According to the court, the teen was locking her bike on the street when Bourke noticed her.
He walked up to her and removed his mask and said “I’ll let you see who I am first” before he shot his compound bow, firing an arrow that narrowly missed her.
According to Le Grand, the girl entered the Aldi store in an attempt to flee, but Bourke “pursued” her and released another arrow that grazed her right arm.
CCTV footage shows Bourke stalking the girl around the store as she tried to hide behind a pallet.
He shot at her again, this time through her left hand, phone, and upper torso, injuring her fingers and chest.
The girl managed to avoid his gaze and showed her injury to a customer, the arrow still lodged in her torso.
Bourke can then be seen approaching the girl from behind in one of the aisles and shooting at her again but misses.
The girl flees once more and finds another customer to shield her from Bourke as he continues to stalk around the store calmly.
Bourke fires one more arrow at the girl but misses.
Le Grand said The girl refused to return Bourke’s arrow, so he approached her while carrying a small sledgehammer.
Other customers are still perusing the shop as Bourke attempts to speak to the girl while laying down his weapons.
Before the police arrive, two men approach him and knock him to the ground.
When they saw Bourke carrying the compound bow, other customers were seen leaving the store.
According to testimony given in court, the entire incident lasted between four and five minutes from the moment Bourke decided to target the girl until he was tackled to the ground.
Le Grand claimed that Bourke had a “selfish mindset” that day and had not expressed regret for the attack.
For about four minutes, “she was hunted like an animal around the store,” he claimed.
In fact, Mr. Bourke intended for the offense to have other repercussions because it was persistent and long-lasting.
“This was a planned and intentional attack, and the offense was committed in public.”
“Therefore it’s not just an example of violence in public but violence deliberately in public.”
The court was informed that Bourke regularly smoked marijuana and had been diagnosed with mixed personality disorder.
Le Grand claimed that although Bourke’s health problems were a “contributing factor” to his crime, he was fully conscious of his deeds and their repercussions.
He was able to communicate how he came to choose his ultimate target, the man said.
“The fact that he was able to decide not to target the woman who was pregnant and to follow through with the consequences of that course, if he had started out on killing that woman who was pregnant, shows he was able to reason properly about difference.”
Le Grand claimed that despite having “multiple opportunities to express remorse,” Bourke never followed up on the attack by asking how the girl was doing.
Bourke reportedly read the victim impact statements to the court last week.
After giving those things some thought, Bourke’s defense attorney, Charlotte Smith, said, “He instructed me he is sorry.”
That was the first time it was expressed.
According to Smith, if her client hadn’t been struggling with mental health issues, “it’s less likely the offending would have occurred in the first place” and her client’s mental health had contributed to the attack in Aldi.
Bourke received a prison term of 10 years and 6 months from Justice Tom Sullivan.
He will count the 946 days he has already spent in custody toward his service.
Justice Sullivan stated, “This was not a crime of passion or immediacy; it was a series of events over time.
He added that although he considered Bourke’s mental state when determining his sentence, he ultimately concluded that he was conscious of his actions that day.
It seems that you were cognizant of what was right and wrong and that you had the ability in effect to control yourself and to know what you were doing, the psychiatrist said, adding that there was a connection between those issues and the offending on this particular day.