Four cy­clone school thieves sen­tenced

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

FOUR Bris­bane men who stole elec­tron­ics from Proser­pine State School while com­plet­ing as­bestos re­moval fol­low­ing Cy­clone Deb­bie, have nar­rowly avoided jail time.

Nak Ch­hoeun, Roeuth Ouch, Sovong Rin and Dar­avit Son were brought un­done when a teacher from Pros­per­ine State School dis­cov­ered the school iPad was stolen and used the Find My iPhone app to track the de­vice.

The four men ar­rived in the Whit­sun­days af­ter Cy­clone Deb­bie as part of their work with a Bris­bane based con­struc­tion com­pany.

The men were at the school be­tween April 11-14, dur­ing which time the iPad and other items were stolen.

Af­ter the iPad was tracked, the teacher’s fa­ther fol­lowed it to the Co­ral Sea Re­sort and the police were called.

When police searched their ac­com­mo­da­tion at Co­ral Sea Re­sort, they found the miss­ing iPad but the men also pro­duced a num­ber of other items in­clud­ing 10 pairs of head­phones, dig­i­tal cam­eras, a hard drive, charg­ers, a lap­top, as­sorted com­puter ca­bles, a printer, an HDMI adapter, a pair of speak­ers, a USB stick and a stop watch, as well as sta­tionery in­clud­ing pen­cils and rub­bers.

Af­ter hav­ing their ini­tial re­quest to have the case moved to Bris­bane de­nied by Mag­is­trate Si­mon Young, the four men faced Pros­per­ine Mag­is­trates Court in per­son on Mon­day.

Duty lawyer El­iz­a­beth Smith, who rep­re­sented the four men, said they thought the build­ing was un­us­able, aban­doned and “ef­fec­tively that all the items that were there were dam­aged goods”.

“They saw the items there and sim­ply thought that no one wanted them and took them,” she said.

“They thought it had all been left and that it was free gain. They sim­ply thought they could take it.”

Mag­is­trate Si­mon Young was not buy­ing it.

“They’re in a school. How could they pos­si­bly think th­ese things are aban­doned. It’s not like they found th­ese in a tip,” he said.

Ms Smith said they never took any steps to see if the items were owned and that if they did “this would have never hap­pened”.

“They saw the items there and it was op­por­tunis­tic. There was no pre-plan­ning,” she said.

Ms Smith said they had no crim­i­nal his­to­ries, were apolo­getic and re­morse­ful and all the items had been re­turned.

In sen­tenc­ing, Mr Young said “how they could con­fuse prop­erty in a school they were work­ing on for as­bestos re­moval as be­ing prop­erty they can take away be­cause no one want it makes no sense to me at all”.

“They were placed in po­si­tion of sig­nif­i­cant trust in a vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­nity, in a pe­riod of par­tic­u­lar vul­ner­a­bil­ity... to have that trust abused is a dis­grace,” he said.

“Some peo­ple would be happy to have you sent to jail and the key thrown away.”

All four men were sen­tenced to 12 months im­pris­on­ment and given im­me­di­ate pa­role re­lease.

“If you do not do what (pa­role) says, you will go to jail,” Mr Young warned.

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