'God' faces judgement day after custody stint

By Andrew Korner

A GOODNA man who earlier this year claimed to be God and out of reach of the justice system, was yesterday released back into the community.

Richard James Howarth, 37, spent 11 days in custody before seemingly acknowledging the authority of Ipswich Magistrates Court, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to appear.

Defence lawyer Kevin Rose said his client was suffering from a mental illness, which led to grandiose religious beliefs and Howarth's decision to shun the court on three occasions - January 18, March 27 and June 16.

It was understood Howarth embarked on an outback pilgrimage to central Australia at the time he was supposed to appear before the court.

Despite this, and a history of mental health assessment, Howarth was deemed fit to answer to further traffic charges as recently as Tuesday, Mr Rose told the court.

"He is on anti-psychotic medication and as long as he continues to take it he will be right to give instructions (to his lawyers)," Mr Rose said.

Howarth is yet to enter a plea to charges including three counts of driving while under the influence of liquor and one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

He was granted bail on the condition that he continue taking his anti-psychotic medication and report regularly to a medical centre for observation.

Donning thick facial hair and a faded blue polo shirt, Howarth stood in the prisoner's dock with his forearms crossed as Magistrate Jim Herlihy told him he would not face further punishment for his failing to appear offences.

He will appear to answer to the traffic charges on December 3.

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