Theft from Ballarat charity was 'tragic': court

A MAGISTRATE has labelled it "ironic" that a vulnerable career criminal and drug user targeted a Red Cross store in one of many burglaries around Ballarat.

Describing Christopher North's offending as "tragic", Magistrate Cynthia Toose said it was aggravating that he stole from an organisation which had undoubtedly helped him in the past.

North, 45, was jailed for seven months this morning after pleading guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates Court to more than 10 drug and theft charges.

The court heard North broke into and robbed three Sturt Street businesses last year, on each occasion leaving blood samples which police later matched to North.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Clint Prebble said North broke into the Red Cross' Sturt Street store between May 4 and May 6 last year, stealing $300 cash.

Senior Constable Prebble said North broke into two more businesses over the next two months, each time gaining entry through a rear lane way.

The court heard North was also involved in a series of thefts, attempted thefts and drug-related offences around Melbourne last year.

One one of those occasions North and a co-accused distracted a St Kilda gallery owner before stealing $2000 cash from the victim's bag.

North's defence lawyer said his client had had a "terribly unhappy life", adding that heroin use had been his downfall.

Ms Toose agreed with the lawyer and said drugs had clearly ruined North's life. But, she said a suspended jail term was out of range and said immediate jail was the only option.

North was jailed for seven months and fined $400.

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