THREE people stole an unlocked four-wheel drive worth $30,000 after the owner left the keys in the ignition, a court has heard.
Clinton Brown, 34, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to theft of a motor vehicle.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Bob Anderson said the Invermay man and his two co-offenders went to Howitt Street in Wendouree one December night last year.
After finding the unlocked 2005 Toyota Land Cruiser sitting in a driveway, they pushed it to the road and started the engine.
Sergeant Anderson said the stolen vehicle was pulled over by police a short time later after one of the offenders, not Brown, was caught speeding along the Western Highway near Warrenheip.
Defence lawyer Jeremy Harper described the circumstances surrounding the car theft as “unusual”, saying his client did not know the co-offender, who he claimed had instigated the incident.
Mr Harper said Brown initially thought the trio were going to a friend’s house to borrow a vehicle.
“That was the point things started to become a little strange,” Mr Harper said about them quietly pushing the four-wheel drive to the road.
The trio were arrested by police a short time later when the vehicle was seen speeding along the Western Highway.
Magistrate Peter Couzens sentenced Brown to a four-month community corrections order with conviction, and suspended him from driving for four months.
Brown was also ordered to undergo treatment and rehabilitation for drug abuse.