Ballarat man rips off local businesses: court

A BALLARAT man ripped off local businesses to the tune of almost $27,000 by writing cheques linked to a bank account with no money in it, a court has heard. 

Adam Leslie Wakefield, 44, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court this morning where he pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges including attempting to commit an indictable offence, dishonestly receiving stolen goods, obtaining financial advantage by deception, shop-theft, theft and driving while disqualified.

The court heard Wakefield, who later admitted to police his offending had spiralled out of control, opened a chequeing account with the ANZ bank in August last year, yet failed to deposit any money into it. 

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Steve Kent said Wakefield then began purchasing items, including power tools and hire cars, each time writing cheques which continued to bounce.

Senior Constable Kent said all payments, totalling $26,455, are still outstanding and that none of the purchases had been recovered. 

The businesses targeted included Reptile Gulch Car Sales, Smiths Trucks, DW Controls and Automation, John Stevens, Henderson Mowers and Chainsaws, Supercheap Auto, Autobarn, Total Tools, Landmark, Dahlsens Hardware, Repco, Mesh and Masonry Supplies and Bridges Wade. 

Senior Constable Kent said Wakefield took "great measures" to ensure staff at the different businesses that his cheques would be honoured and purchased various items including pressure washers, chainsaws, assorted power tools, hand-held radios and a staple gun.

The court heard Wakefield later told police that he had been ordered to purchase the equipment to pay back debts to local drug dealers. 

Wakefield's defence counsel told the court that while the offending was dishonest, it wasn't "completely dishonest", adding Wakefield often provided cheques with his name and phone number on them. 

The defence said Wakefield had a long history of drug use and that at the time of offending had been using methamphetamines daily. 

Magistrate Cynthia Toose remanded Wakefield to re-appear on December 18 for sentencing.

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