A man who tried to kill a teenage girl in an Aldi supermarket whom he “hunted like an animal” with a compound bow and arrow will face jail for the next 10 years and six months.
Benjamin Jeremy Bourke, 28, pleaded guilty in Brisbane High Court on Wednesday for the attempted murder of the 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 Bourke had armed himself with the compound bow, two knives and three small sledgehammers as he left his home in Bundamba on Sept. 20, 2020.
Benjamin Bourke, 28, shot a 15-year-old girl with a compound bow in 2020
Bourke pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of the teenage girl in Brisbane’s High Court on Wednesday
The court heard that Bourke had an argument with his housemate earlier in the day and decided to take his own life.
Mr Le Grand said his solution was to have the police shoot him and he hatched a plan to achieve that goal.
“He decided to take a life, he just didn’t know what life he was going to take,” said Mr. Le Grand.
The court heard that Bourke came on foot wearing a mask, hoodie and long pants.
CCTV footage played in court showed Bourke walking along South Station Rd from Booval railway station, armed with a compound bow.
Mr Le Grand said Bourke had considered ‘choosing’ to shoot a mother who was ‘as his target’ with her small child, but decided to find someone else to attack.
The CCTV footage also showed Bourke firing his compound bow at a native woman who was jogging nearby, but the arrow missed her.
“His reason for (shooting her) was that the woman was indigenous and he didn’t like indigenous (people),” said Mr. Le Grand.
He will now spend the next 10 and a half years in prison, counting as time the two and a half years he has already served
Mr Le Grand said Bourke continued to the shopping area because ‘there would be more witnesses in the shops’.
“Sounding an alarm was part of Mr. Bourke’s plan,” he said.
“When he reached the Aldi store, he found his target.”
The court heard that the teenage girl locked her bicycle in the street when Bourke saw her.
He walked over to her, took off his mask and said, “I’ll show you who I am first” before firing his compound bow and firing an arrow that narrowly missed her.
Mr Le Grand said the girl entered the Aldi store in an attempt to escape but “pursued” Bourke and fired another arrow which grazed her right arm.
CCTV footage shows Bourke stalking the girl around the store as she tries to hide behind a pallet.
He fired at her again, this time penetrating her left hand, phone and upper body, wounding her fingers and chest.
The girl managed to escape his sight and showed her injury to the customer, as the arrow was still lodged in her torso.
Bourke can then see the girl approaching from behind in one of the aisles and shoots at her again, but misses.
The girl runs off again and manages to find another customer who protects her from Bourke as he continues to quietly sneak around the store.
Bourke was arrested after two men tackled and disarmed him to the ground during the 2020 incident
Bourke fires another arrow at the girl, but misses.
Mr Le Grand said Bourke, while armed with a small sledgehammer, approached the girl to ask for his arrow back, but she refused.
Bourke then puts his guns on the floor as he tries to talk to the girl, while other customers continue to wander around the store.
Two men then approach and tackle him to the ground before the police arrive.
Other members of the public had been seen fleeing the store when they saw Bourke carrying the compound bow.
The court heard that the entire incident lasted about four to five minutes from the time Bourke chose the girl as his intended victim to the time he was tackled to the ground.
Mr Le Grand said Bourke had shown a “selfish mentality” on that day and had no regrets since the attack.
“She was chased around the store like a beast for about four minutes,” he said.
‘The offense is long lasting, it was persistent and could easily have had other consequences and indeed that was Mr Bourke’s intention.
“This was a premeditated and targeted attack, the crime took place in public.
“Therefore it is not just an example of public violence, but intentional violence in public.”
The court heard that Bourke was diagnosed with mixed personality disorder and was a regular cannabis user.
The court heard the teenage girl locked her bicycle in the street outside an Aldi store when Bourke approached her
Mr Le Grand said that while these health issues were a ‘contributing factor’ to his offence, Bourke was well aware of his actions and the consequences.
“He was able to express his thought process in determining his ultimate target,” he said.
“The fact that he could decide not to target the woman with the child and continue the consequences of that course of action, if he had started by killing that woman who had the baby, shows that he had good reason about differences’.
Mr Le Grand said Bourke never asked about the girl’s health after the attack, despite “appeering several times to apologize”.
The court heard that Bourke had read the victim statements last week.
“After thinking about those things he told me, he’s sorry,” said Charlotte Smith, Bourke’s attorney.
“That’s the first opportunity spoken.”
Bourke approached the teen and said, “I’ll show you who I am first” before starting to chase her around the store.
Ms Smith told the court that her client’s mental health had played a role in the attack at Aldi and that “it is less likely the crime would have happened in the first place” had he not addressed those issues.
Judge Tom Sullivan sentenced Bourke to 10 years and six months in prison.
The 946 days he has already been in custody count towards his service time.
“This was not a crime of passion or immediacy, it was a series of events over time,” Judge Sullivan said.
He added that he had taken into account Bourke’s mental health condition at sentencing, but eventually found he was aware of his actions that day.
“There was a connection between those things and the offending on this day, but again, in accordance with the opinion of (the psychiatrist’s report) it seems that you knew what was right and what was wrong and that you actually had the ability to control yourself and to know what you were doing,’ he said.