‘Enough is enough’, magistrate tells ice user with 25 pages of priors

A Buninyong ice user who stole a “trifling” amount of items in three separate incidents this year has been sentenced to jail.

Joseph William Johnson stole a car wheel outside a Ballarat house in January, alcohol and chips from Buninyong Foodworks in March and an air pressure regulator from Total Tools Ballarat in June. 

The Ballarat Magistrates Court was told on Wednesday the 39-year-old had 25 pages of prior convictions of similar offending and had spent months at a time in jail.

Johnson, who was arrested two days ago, pleaded guilty to five charges, including theft from car, committing an indictable offence while on bail and three counts of theft from shop.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Aimee Heal said on January 27 Johnson used a car jack to steal a wheel from a car parked outside a residential address.

She said Johnson told police his car tyre punctured and when he saw a similar wheel on the victim’s car, he took it.

Johnson went to Buninyong Foodworks on March 4 to steal 10 cans of alcohol worth $45. He approached the counter but ran from the store without paying.

Sergeant Heal said 15 minutes later Johnson returned to the supermarket where he took a can of Pringles chips and a block of chocolate and left without paying.

She said staff recognised him from the alcohol theft and tried to follow him but lost sight. Johnson told police he was hungry and sorry for stealing the food.

The court was told Johnson fled on foot after stealing a $20 air pressure regulator from Total Tools Ballarat on June 12.

A witness followed Johnson through Victoria Park before police became involved and arrested him near Ballarat High School.

Defence lawyer Scott Belcher said his client had used heroin in the past but in the most recent offending, had “an unproductive relationship with ice”.

He said Johnson had no money to buy food because he had spent it on ice, of which he was using half-a-gram a week over the past few months.

Mr Belcher urged the court to sentence Johnson to jail without parole.

Magistrate Gregory Robinson told Johnson he was articulate but said he was wasting his life on ice.

“You need to change something,” Mr Robinson said.

“The total amount stolen is quite trifling. It’s less then $200. In that sense it’s trifling.”

Mr Robinson said the car wheel theft victim would have been inconvenienced.

“They (now) live in a community wondering the next time they will get ripped off. At some point we have to say enough is enough,” he said.

Johnson was sentenced to eight months in jail, with two days already served.