The real-life story of how an Australian journalist ended up in prison
Posted March 29, 2019 12:02:17 As a journalist, I’ve never felt quite so lonely.
I know the pressures of a big-city job, the demands of journalism school, the fear of being discovered as a fraud.
But the real world is a different animal.
You have to deal with the pressures, the pressure of living in the shadows, the stigma, the constant danger of being arrested or arrested again.
As a result, I can’t help but be a little bit wary of the risks I take when I’m in public life.
It’s a feeling I haven’t felt since I first entered journalism school.
As I write this in February, I’m on a train from Adelaide to Brisbane, where I’m heading to work.
It’s a week before Christmas and I’m still worried about what will happen to me.
When I arrive at the station, I see an enormous police line.
As I wait for a bus to take me home, I hear someone yell: “The next thing you know you’re going to be in a detention centre!”
I’m not the first journalist to get caught up in the crisis that is unfolding in Australia’s jails, and I’ll be the last.
For a while, I was a victim of the detention system.
I was a prisoner for two years and one of the first people to be taken to the local police station to be questioned by police.
I was 19.
Then I was held for two more years in a police cell.
A few days later, I found out I’d been arrested for having a weapon, and that I was facing a maximum sentence of eight years and three months.
I ended up spending three months in jail, then two months in a maximum security jail, before being released in December 2020.
The following year, I tried to get my hands on an iPhone 6, which I’d bought online, and my girlfriend was on holiday in Fiji, and so it became a matter of convenience to have access to my phone.
After a couple of weeks, I got the phone back, and after a few more days, I’d moved out of the cell where I was arrested.
By then, the police had been called in to investigate an alleged assault, and in early December of last year, after a two-week delay, I made my first court appearance.
At the time, I had been released on bail, and was then ordered to surrender my iPhone.
But I wasn’t going to surrender it.
“I don’t want to surrender anything to the police,” I was told.
While the officers were waiting for me to leave the detention centre, I overheard one of them tell another: “You’re not surrendering anything.”
They didn’t realise that the phones were mine.
They were a part of my life.
I’d spent five years trying to convince them not to arrest me, and to try and convince them that I wouldn’t have a weapon.
Two months later, the phone was handed over to the Crown, who used it to find me guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon for the purposes of terrorism.
I went on trial on February 10, 2020, in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, where my defence lawyer, Paul Koehler, argued that I had no right to have a gun, that the only way I could have done it was to have been able to use it to commit an act of terrorism, and not as a journalist.
This was the first time in Australia that a journalist had been convicted of possessing a weapon in a criminal trial.
On February 17, I lost.
In the aftermath of the trial, I returned to work and the phone, the laptop, the iPad and the iPhone were all confiscated.
During the two months of detention, I worked in a jail, where a prison officer told me I was not to go out.
I couldn’t work at a bar, I couldn