The Adelaide Advertiser reports…
“A disgruntled Jehovah’s Witness who poisoned his elder’s family in a misguided attempt to end his excommunication from the church will serve almost three years’ jail.
Judge Rauf Soulio said [Brett Darren] Mardon was driven to offend by social isolation because, under the church’s rules, the “disfellowed” cannot speak with or be acknowledged by their peers.
“You have always suffered anxiety and relied on your friends to discuss things with … that avenue had been denied to you by the elders of the church,” he said.
“You found yourself engaged in increasing rumination about what you perceived as the injustice of continuing disfellowship.
“That left you vulnerable to making poor, and perhaps irrational, decisions.
“Your unusual circumstances attract some sympathy … but I cannot find good reason exists to suspend your sentence.”
Mardon, 48, was found guilty at trial of three counts of attempting to create a risk of harm and three counts of serious criminal trespass in a place of residence.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of theft.
As first revealed by the Sunday Mail, Mardon repeatedly broke into the home of Ben Anthonysz and used a syringe to inject glysophate into the family’s milk and juice.
Prosecutors alleged Mardon’s use of the weed killer was motivated by revenge, as he blamed Mr Anthonysz, 49, for his excommunication and the end of his marriage.
Mr Anthonysz was part of a church ethics committee that placed Mardon on an indefinite period of disfellowship after he confessed to having sinned against their beliefs.
While disfellowed, Mardon was expected to attend church but had to enter last, sit at the back and could in no way communicate with his congregation — even in public.
At trial, Mardon said his goal was to “emotionally disturb” Mr Anthonysz so he would leave the church, ending his period of disfellowship, and that he intended no harm.
Judge Soulio rejected that submission as “unconvincing and somewhat irrational”.
Mr Anthonysz subsequently filed a $100,000 compensation lawsuit while Mardon filed an appeal against the guilty verdict.
On Wednesday, Judge Soulio said Mardon had “breached the sanctity” of the Anthonysz’ home and left them fearful for their future.
“I accept that the consumption of relatively small amounts of glysophate … would be unlikely to cause significant side effects,” he said.
“However, the impact of your offending has been significant and ongoing.”
He said Mardon was a “somewhat naive” man due to his “sheltered” life within the church and acknowledged he would find prison life difficult.
He jailed Mardon for two years and 11 months, and imposed an 11-month non-parole period.”