A 20-year-old man who saw an "opportunity" to steal firearms while burgling residential homes and sold some of them shortly after, has urged a court to send him to an adult prison rather than a youth detention centre.
Joshua Hope, of no fixed address, stole eight firearms from two residential homes in Donald in December. He sold three of the guns to a man in Mildura while another was sold to a man in Delacombe.
He was a prohibited person to possess a firearm because of his prior convictions.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore told the County Court in Melbourne on Wednesday Hope attended the Donald properties on separate days. He was on his way to Mildura to sty with a friend he had been in prison with.
Mr Moore said Hope entered an unlocked shed at the first property, forced entry to a firearm safe and stole five guns. Hope stole $35 worth of fuel from a vehicle on the property.
His fingerprints were located near the gun safe.
Mr Moore said between December 14 and 15, Hope and a co-accused stole a Hilux utility from the Haddon reserve. They intended to "milk" fuel from the $30,000 vehicle but found the keys sitting on the rear tyre and drove away in it.
Later in December, Hope drove to Donald a second time and attended another property to steal three firearms, ammunition, shotgun shells and a blue Esky.
Mr Moore said Hope, an unlicensed driver, attended a Learmonth Road service station in Wendouree in a Holden Commodore registered to his girlfriend. He had a Beretta shotgun, stolen from one of the Donald properties, in the boot.
He said when Hope left the service station store, he saw a police vehicle and fled. Police discovered the shotgun, shotgun shells, 12 grams of cannabis, bongs, a set of scales and small knife inside the Holden Commodore.
Police executed a search warrant at Hope's co-accused's Beaufort house and found the pair hiding in a bedroom ensuite. Officers found one of the stolen guns, ammunition inside a blue Esky, Hilux keys and ammunition scattered on the floor.
On the way to the Ballarat Police Station, Hope told police the stolen Hilux ute was located in Smythesdale bush land. He told police he sold three guns at Mildura and another to a Delacombe man.
All eight stolen firearms were recovered.
Defence lawyer Adrian Paull said at the time of the offending, his client was homeless and living in his car and he was going to stay with a friend in Mildura, which led to the gun sales.
He said while stealing the fuel from the vehicle at Donald, he entered the shed and discovered the opportunity to steal the firearms and seized the opportunity.
"He has these firearms in his possession for a short time. He sells them. He sees this opportunity to make some money," Mr Paull said.
He said Hope came from a good family but started to show troubling behaviour at an early age and disrupted other students and wandered off from his family home.
Mr Paull said Hope had a passion for vehicles and mechanics and was working as a welder while on remand.
He said Hope would be eligible to be sentenced to youth detention but he wanted to remain in an adult prison where he was settled and employed. Hope has never been in a youth detention facility.
Mr Moore said the prosecution submitted Hope be sentenced to a head sentence and a non-parole period.
"This is very serious offending. He has stepped right into the big league here; setting himself up as a firearm's dealer," Mr Moore said.
Judge Mullaly directed Hope be assessed for youth detention and adjourned the case to August 5. Hope remains in custody where he has spent 222 days.
He pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including disposing a traffickable quantity of firearms, burglary, firearm theft and being a prohibited person possessing a firearm.
A traffickable quantity of firearms is two or more guns.
Hope's co-accused was jailed for 15 months after he pleaded guilty to more than 10 charges, five of which related to Hope.
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