Woman avoids jail over caravan theft

A BALLARAT North man who came home to find his $20,000 caravan missing spotted the item in a yard nearby a couple of days later, a court has heard.

A heavily pregnant Shannon Lee Jeffrey, 24, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday over the theft, which occurred on January 12 last year.

The court heard Jeffrey had driven around residential streets in Ballarat North before hitching the caravan onto the back of her car, and driving it to the address where she was staying.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Clint Prebble said the victim spotted his caravan and called police.

Jeffrey was interviewed and charged by police, but failed to show up at court and then moved interstate. During the interview she told police she took the caravan because “I thought I could live in it”.

The theft also breached a suspended sentence which was handed out in 2010 for a late-night assault in Lydiard Street.

Defence lawyer Mike Wardell successfully argued that exceptional circumstances existed, meaning Jeffrey would not have to serve the two month suspended jail term.

He said she was hanging out with the wrong crowd at the time, and had since stopped using drugs, entered a relationship and become pregnant. 

“It’s been a radical transformation ... a complete change in lifestyle,” Mr Wardell said.

Mr Wardell acknowledged the offending was brazen, but said Jeffrey’s child did not deserve the disadvantage of being born in custody. 

Magistrate Peter Couzens imposed a  four months suspended prison sentence, over a two year period.

“I don’t think you will breach it (the suspended sentence), you’ve got too much to lose,”he said.