GUILTY: A man yesterday pleaded guilty to 22 charges related to a rural crime spree.
GUILTY: A man yesterday pleaded guilty to 22 charges related to a rural crime spree.

Man blames addiction for crime spree

A DEUCHAR man fronted Warwick Magistrates Court yesterday charged with 22 offences racked up during a $100,000 crime spree.

Timothy Karl Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to all charges, which included counts of stealing, wilful damage, unlawful use of motor vehicles and entering a dwelling with intent by break.

Rifles, a GPS and tools such as chainsaws were among the possessions he stole from rural and remote properties across the Darling Downs between March and April this year.

Defence lawyer Clare Hine said the 28-year-old had no criminal history, except one traffic-related offence committed in 2008.

Ms Hine said Fitzgerald was stealing to support an expensive addiction to ice.

The court heard Fitzgerald started taking drugs about three years ago when he unexpectedly saw a driver who was decapitated in a road accident.

"He bottled it up and turned to drugs,” Ms Hine said.

Ms Hine said Fitzgerald was no longer taking drugs and had sought support for his addiction.

Caught during a police crackdown on rural crime, Fitzgerald spent just over four months in custody after his April arrest.

Magistrate Bevan Manthey said the types of offences committed by Fitzgerald were prevalent in the region.

He noted owners of rural and remote property were particularly vulnerable to the economic and emotional effects of such crimes.

Mr Manthey drew attention to one particular instance during the spree when Fitzgerald stole a gun safe.

Then 27, Fitzgerald smashed the glass panel in a door before ripping the safe from a wall.

Mr Manthey said a rifle and shotgun were taken in the process.

During sentencing, Mr Manthey acknowledged Fitzgerald was a mature offender who had co-operated with police.

While drugs were not considered to be a mitigating factor in sentencing, Mr Manthey said the time Fitzgerald had served was significant.

The 28-year-old was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment but released immediately on parole.

He was also disqualified from driving for six months.

Fitzgerald was warned that if he offended again during parole he would go straight to prison.



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