Ute, trailer, tools stolen in $60,000 municipal depot burglary


Sentence appeal: A man who was jailed for a burglary at a Shepparton depot has appealed his sentence. Photo by Rodney Braithwaite

A man who stole more than $60,000 worth of items from a council depot, including a utility, trailer and tools, has been jailed for four months but is free on bail after appealing his conviction.

Christopher Shane Fletcher, 49, of Shepparton, pleaded guilty in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court to burglary, theft of a vehicle, four counts of theft, three counts of dishonest retention of stolen property, four counts of impaired driving impaired, failing to keep a safe distance behind a vehicle, driving while suspended and failing to meet bail.

Senior Prosecutor Constable Luke Lund told the court that Fletcher and a co-accused man broke into the City of Greater Shepparton depot in Doyles Rd, Shepparton at 3am on August 23, 2020.

The pair broke into vehicles and toolboxes in the back of them, stealing around $10,000 worth of tools.

They also stole a Holden Colorado ute worth $50,000 and a trailer worth about $4,500, Sen Constable Lund said.

The court heard a report was made to police of two vehicles ‘behaving suspiciously’ on Old Dargalong School Rd, Waring at 8am.

The Holden Colorado had been driven into the bushes and the driver got into another car driven by the co-defendant.

Police found the pair at the Waring Roadhouse and the co-accused admitted he threw the ute away.

Some of the stolen tools were found in the ute.

The stolen trailer was found in a house in Mangalore and most of the tools were recovered.

Fletcher initially denied the theft, but when told the tools had been found, he said “you got me – I did everything,” Constable Lund said.

In separate incidents, Fletcher was found high on drugs four times in a truck with methamphetamine in his system and another time in a car.

The court heard Fletcher was driving a Kenworth motor truck when he collided with the rear of a Kia sedan which had slowed down for roadworks on the Western Ring Rd in Fawkner at 10.50pm on May 7, 2020.

He had methamphetamines in his system and there was minor damage to the car.

When asked why he hadn’t gone far enough behind the car, Fletcher said she suddenly braked and he couldn’t see the brake lights.

He was then caught driving with drugs in a Kenworth B-twin prime mover four days later in River Rd, Murchison.

He had also not correctly filled in his work logbook as a national driver.

He was again caught driving with drugs in a Peterbilt main truck on Edwards Rd, Tallygaroopna on October 19, 2021.

Less than seven weeks later, on December 4, 2021, Fletcher was arrested driving a Peterbilt prime truck in McLennan St, Mooroopna, with methamphetamines in his system and driving with a suspended driver’s license.

Police also caught Fletcher driving a car in Poplar Ave, Shepparton on June 7, 2020.

Ferguson’s attorney, Megan McKenna, told the court that her client had “turned the corner” with his drug use and had been drug-free for four months.

She also said there had been no dishonesty offenses for two years.

Magistrate Tara Hartnett said the burglary at the council depot had “genuine planning”.

“Your track record for these kinds of questions is appalling,” Ms Hartnett said.

“The impact or consequences on the wider community would have been significant.”

Ms Hartnett jailed Fletcher for four months for the council burglary and theft, but the defense appealed the conviction.

After the appeal, Fletcher was granted an appeal bond, allowing him to remain in the community until his appeal was heard.

Ferguson was also fined $1,500 for the driving charges and $400 for failing to post bail.

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