Looters labelled ‘ un- Australian’
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