Teen caught up in Portland drug war

A teenager has been jailed for nine months after becoming entangled in the Portland drug turf war.

Jake Miller, 19, of Jerilderie Drive, Berwick, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court last week to his involvement in what Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt described as an attempted “drug run-through”.

Miller was charged with offences including causing criminal damage, assault with a weapon, being disguised with unlawful intent, failing to stop when requested by police, driving in a dangerous manner, fraudulent use of registration plates, making a false report to police and entering a place likely to cause a breach of the peace. 

He will be imprisoned in a youth justice centre. Miller appealed against the severity of the sentence and has been released on bail. 

The prosecution told how Miller and a co-offender went to Portland on July 27 last year. They put tape over the registration plates of Miller’s car before Miller took “ice” amphetamines, then concealed their identities with balaclavas and armed themselves with baseball bats before trying to force their way into a Portland home. 

The home was occupied by the father of a man later killed in Portland last year. When the man opened his front door he was hit to the nose but was able to force the door closed. A window was then smashed and a metal object thrown inside. 

Miller and the co-offender repeatedly tried to force entry to the home, saying they were going to get the man and kill him, and smashed the windows of a car parked nearby.

Patrolling police noticed the tape on Miller’s car number plates and he drove off to avoid them, but entered a dead-end street and accelerated, putting the police in danger, while fleeing.

Miller then left Portland and on the way to Port Fairy ran down road signs and posts before his car became undriveable. Pieces of his car, including the registration plates, balaclavas and baseball bats, were later recovered along the road.

When first contacted by police, Miller had claimed his car had been stolen from a Melbourne railway station, but on August 14 had admitted his involvement. 

Miller had claimed he did not know the victim but admitted he realised he had been asked to stop by police and had been dangerous and reckless.

Defence barrister Ray Alexander said Miller had no idea about what he was getting himself into.

He said Miller did not know any of the people involved and had just been asked to drive his co-accused to see friends.

Mr Klestadt said the inference was that Miller involved himself in a south-west Victoria drug trafficking turf war.

He said the victim of the attempted run-through was Geoffrey Hocking. The magistrate said three people had been charged over the murder of Mr Hocking’s son, Troy, who died on October 17 last year after being shot.

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