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The Sunshine Coast Daily
HE SHOT his former wife in the face, in front of their children.
Now, former Rockhampton businessman John Jesse Stephens says his 15-year jail term is excessive, in part because he has narcissistic personality disorder.
Stephens, 46, was jailed in March for attempted murder.
His terrified former wife earlier this year said 15 years was not long enough, and she was leaving the country.
But Stephens is claiming he should have been given a shorter term, because the courts failed to adequately recognise his cocktail of mental health and addiction issues, and the fact he handed himself in.
At the Queensland Court of Appeal on Wednesday, barrister Alastair McDougall said Stephens had suffered from bipolar affective disorder throughout his adult life.
Mr McDougall also told the appeal court judges his client, a failed Pizza Hut franchisee, had abused alcohol, amphetamines and marijuana.
Stephens also suffered from adjustment disorder and bouts of depression and hypomania.
The appeal court judges said Stephens would have to convince them his mental illness lessened his moral culpability for the 2014 Helensvale shooting.
“I’m looking for something that says it actually had an impact on the things he did that day,” Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said.
The jail term, which meant Stephens must serve at least 12 years in custody, was “manifestly excessive,” Mr McDougall told the appeal court.
Justice James Douglas told the appeal court narcissistic personality disorder or NPD could be an “intractable” ailment, with attempts to treat it difficult.
“It’s notorious – in terms of treatment,” he said.
NPD caused what Health Direct described as “socially destructive behaviours that damage relationships” and unstable, intense emotions and a distorted self-image.
Mr McDougall said Stephens turned himself in to cops, and made no attempt to cover his tracks after the shooting.
Meanwhile, Mr McDougall also urged the appeal court judges to consider Stephens’s suicidal ideation.
“It’s relevant because it forms part of his mental illness.”
He also told the appeal court Stephens had appeared to respond well to efforts at treating his bipolar disorder.
Mr McDougall also urged the judges to consider whether the penalty was just when compared to other violent crimes.
After the August 16, 2014 shooting in the Westfield Helensvale car park, bystanders disarmed Stephens when his sawn-off .22 calibre rifle jammed.
His wife told the Gold Coast Bulletin she would leave Australia. “What stops him not coming out and doing something again?”
The appeal court reserved its decision. – NewsRegional