A RECOVERING drug addict who stole almost $100,000 in equipment from industrial sheds during a three-month crime spree has avoided jail.
Damien Bambridge, 22, from Lismore, appeared in the Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday, pleading guilty to 13 charges relating to burglaries and unlicensed driving.
The court heard Bambridge was in the midst of a crystal meth addiction when he stole a range of items between March and May last year.
Due to his addiction, his body weight was almost half of what it is today, as he has not taken drugs for almost 12 months.
In three separate burglaries, Bambridge forced his way into industrial sheds and stole vehicles and power tools.
Among the items stolen was a $50,000 speedboat, which was later sold in Bendigo for $15,000.
All other items were recovered from his Delacombe house, where he lived at the time.
He committed the crimes with three other co-accused, who the court heard were still on the run.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Michelle Kilburn said that during a police raid on Bambridge’s house on May 18, two further jet skis that had been reported stolen were also recovered.
Defence lawyer Dianne Hadden said her client was severely addicted to drugs at the time, but had stopped drug-taking “cold turkey” since the day he was arrested.
She said Bambridge had shown great remorse, right from the moment police arrived at his door.
“He had a three-year crystal meth addiction. He was about 65 kilograms at the time. He has put on about 50 kilograms since he stopped using,” said Ms Hadden.
“He helped police in more ways than I have seen in my 28 years of practising law.
“He said he would stand on his head in Sturt Street if that was required. The fear of prison is very real.”
In sentencing, magistrate Peter Couzens said he took Bambridge’s strong family background and
guilty plea into account.
Bambridge was supported in court by his mother, brother and three friends.
“There must a punitive aspect as well as a rehabilitative one in the sentencing,” Mr Couzens said. “In many ways, you are lucky to come from such a good family.”
Bambridge was sentenced to 135 hours community work, to be served over the next 12 months.