No jail for footy trip rampage in Ballarat

TWO South Australian men who trashed a Ballarat backpackers hostel while on an end of season football trip have each been fined $10,000, narrowly avoiding jail.

Johnathan Northcott, 30, and Clint Richardson, 28, each pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage in Ballarat Magistrates Court this morning.

In a systematic rampage which magistrate Cynthia Toose labelled "despicable", the pair caused almost $15,000 damage to the Ballarat Backpackers Hostel in Humffray Street North when they broke in and ransacked the building in the early hours of October 4 last year.

The court heard the whole football team, from Tintinara in country South Australia, had earlier checked into the hostel, yet Northcott and Richardson couldn't get into the building when they returned about 2.15am after a lengthy drinking session at numerous pubs and clubs.

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Gerard Barrow said after forgetting the door code the pair smashed a rear window before entering the building and ransacking it.

The court heard the men kicked in doors and walls, pulled out the kitchen sink, threw a fridge down the stairs, smashed a large television, smashed a stove and cooktop, threw food at walls and into carpet, broke light shades and smashed 30 items of crockery.

Leading Senior Constable Barrow said the pair left the hostel after the rampage and were arrested the following morning when they returned to the rest of the playing group.

Hinting that an immediate jail term was not out of the question, Ms Toose said the the event had no doubt caused outrage in the community.

"This was a truly dreadful episode," Ms Toose said.

"The damage that you did was systematic and unrelenting.

"Your behaviour was despicable and just defies belief."

Ms Toose said the only reason she didn't jail the pair was due to their minimal criminal history, with Northcott the only one with historic priors.

Lawyers for the pair said the event had caused overwhelming embarrassment for them in their small country town and that the offending had been out of character.

Their separate lawyers said the pair had this morning withdrawn more than $7000 cash in order to pay to the court immediately.

The court heard the pair had also been banned from the football club.

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