A WOMAN’S car was stolen from right in front of her after she briefly left the vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition, a court has heard.
Alan Edward Cody, 46, committed the opportunistic theft, jumping in the Ford Fiesta and driving away in view of the victim.
The Ballarat man, who was on a suspended sentence at the time, then drove the car from Preston to Ballarat, later telling police he had no other way of getting home.
Cody, supported by his sister, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to the theft.
The court heard it took three weeks for police to find the stolen car, which was parked in Cody’s Rodier Street driveway.
Upon questioning, Cody admitted the theft to police and said he’d been waiting for them to catch him.
Cody’s driver’s licence was also suspended at the time.
In a lengthy plea hearing, defence lawyer Mike Wardell urged the court not to jail his client, claiming there were exceptional circumstances.
But the submission was quickly rejected and Cody was sentenced to six months in prison.
“The last train had left and he walked up to this car that had the keys in it,” Mr Wardell said.
“He jumped in and drove home.”
Mr Wardell said his client had endured a tragic past, which included a house that burnt to the ground and spending three years in prison over a serious assault.
“There’s been a chapter of errors; enormous difficulties,” Mr Wardell said.
“But he’s a guy that still has promise ... he wants to do all the right things.”
Magistrate Peter Couzens described the theft as a “callous act” that warranted immediate imprisonment.
“There was just no excuse, you could have hitched a ride or waited until the next morning,” Mr Couzens said.
“It was more than likely a momentary departure from her car and you took that opportunity.
“It was a selfish act on your behalf. It was extremely cruel.”
Mr Couzens jailed Cody for six months and disqualified him from driving for 12 months.
Cody hugged his sister before being led by police into the dock.
He will be due for release in November.