Loot­ers la­belled ‘ un- Aus­tralian’

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Roanne John­son roanne. john­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THREE teenage loot­ers who stole two suit­cases full of con­fec­tionery from a Flin­ders St busi­ness dur­ing the height of Cy­clone Yasi have been la­belled un-Aus­tralian but have not been jailed.

Jeremy Dametto, 17, Rasta Andrew Kemp, 17, and a 16-year-old ju­ve­nile walked free af­ter plead­ing guilty yes­ter­day in the Townsville Mag­is­trates Court to en­ter premises with in­tent and steal­ing by loot­ing dur­ing a nat­u­ral disas­ter.

The boys, who were sen­tenced to 12 months’ pro­ba­tion and or­dered to do be­tween 120 and 200 hours com­mu­nity ser­vice, did not have con­vic­tions recorded against them but re­ceived a tongue lash­ing.

‘ ‘ The great Aus­tralian ethos is that when you are in trou­ble, you look out for each ot her,’ ’ Mag­is­trate Peter Smid said.

‘‘ But you took ad­van­tage by loot­ing and it was ex- tremely un-Aus­tralian.

‘‘ If you looked around, neigh­bours were look­ing out for each other, they weren’t look­ing out for each other’s prop­erty to nick.’’

Po­lice pros­e­cu­tor Sgt Richard Scholl said the group, who had been told to leave a youth shel­ter on Fe­bru­ary 2 and go to an evac­u­a­tion cen­tre, plot­ted to take ad­van­tage of a de­serted busi­ness as they walked through the wind and rain.

‘‘ They tar­geted Prices Plus in Flin­ders St Mall, which was in a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion area and at a time when the city was in a state of emer­gency,’’ he said.

‘‘ They threw a brick into a win­dow then ran across the road and when po­lice didn’t at­tend, they en­tered.’’

Sgt Scholl said the teens filled two suit­cases from the store with bags of lol­lies then di­vided up the haul and parted ways.

The ju­ve­nile went to an evac­u­a­tion cen­tre where he con­fessed his crime af­ter be­ing ar­rested due to the huge load of lol­lies he had.

‘‘ Po­lice at the cen­tre be­came sus­pi­cious that the child had co­pi­ous amounts of con­fec­tionery in his pos­ses­sion,’’ Sgt Scholl said.

De­fence lawyers Ron Hinds and Ku­lumba Kiyingi claimed their clients, who only claimed to be hun­gry and cold dur­ing the cy­clone, were re­morse­ful and very em­bar­rassed af t er t heir loot­ing was widely re­ported.

‘‘ It’s been dis­tress­ing for them and their fam­i­lies but they both ad­mit it was a gross er­ror,’’ Mr Kiyingi, who rep­re­sented Dametto and Kemp, said.

‘‘They’ve re­alised the con­se­quences and the stigma of hav­ing their faces on the front page.’’

Mr Hinds, who rep-re­sented the ju­ve­nile, said his client had been sub­jected to neg­a­tive com­ments but was sorry and had writ­ten a letter of apol­ogy.

Mag­is­trate Smid sug­gested the de­fen­dants’ com­mu­nity ser­vice con­sist of help­ing vic­tims of Cy­clone Yasi to re­pair dam­age to their homes and yards.

EM­BAR­RASSED: Jeremy Dametto abuses and threat­ens jour­nal­ists as he leaves the Townsville Mag­is­trates Court with his mother Michelle

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