Magistrate slams criminal’s ‘ridiculous’ excuses

A 39-year-old man was found with a police phone jammer and almost $41,000 at the Gong Gong reservoir, a court has heard.

The Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Tuesday heard police found the electronic device and money in the possession of Jason Richards around noon on August 26.

Prior to his arrest Richards was in his XR 6 conversing with an unknown male in a car next to him at the Brown Hill site.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Kathleen Hewitt said both cars took off when a marked police car drove nearby.

Police followed the accused for five minutes before intercepting him on Brewery Tap Road.

A search of his car was conducted after police realised Richards was nervous.

An electronic devise which rendered phones used by police inoperable was found on the backseat and $40,960 also found in a plastic bag on the floor.

At the time Richards told police "all the money is legit. I am a builder, I use it to pay contractors".

But in court on Tuesday, Richards' lawyer said Richards had been saving the money from a number of cash in hand jobs.

As for the jammer, he said Richards initially purchased it for his family home to stop the neighbours using CCTV cameras to look in his backyard.

But magistrate Peter Reardon said he rejected the "ridiculous" excuses.

"Do you expect me be to believe these excuses?" he said.

"It's patently ridiculous.

"Clearly your activity was criminal."

Richards' lawyer said while his client was unable to substantiate the money, he was only charged with dealing with property "suspected" to be proceeds of crime.

Given Richards had not been before a court for 15 years, had pleaded guilty to the three charges and had no outstanding matters, his lawyer submitted a fine or community corrections order (CCO) would be appropriate.

But the magistrate said while CCO had the benefit of placing Richards under supervision, there were no mental health, drug or alcohol issues that would benefit from the rehabilitative order.

"It seems to me in those circumstances a significant fine may be more appropriate in your case," he said.

He added it should also act as a deterrent for others who considered using similar electronic devices.

Richards was convicted and fined $10,000 which he has six months to pay.

Orders were also made to have the  $40,960 forfeited and the jammer destroyed.