A THIEF has again managed to avoid serving time in jail despite breaching a suspended sentence when he racked up almost $10,000 in unpaid utility bills in false names.
Edward Michael Byrne, 43, of Ekard Avenue, Warrnambool pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on October 30 last year to 20 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception.
He received an 18-month community corrections order for obtaining gas, electricity, phone and internet services valued at almost $10,000 in false names.
That offending also breached a one-month jail sentence imposed on May 22 last year for shoplifting.
A magistrate restored the suspended sentence and ordered Byrne serve the term in jail, but Byrne appealed the severity of that sentence.
Yesterday, Judge James Montgomery told the Warrnambool County Court that Byrne’s history of shop stealing was unimpressive.
He said the deceptions breached the suspended jail sentence but he found there were exceptional circumstances which allowed Byrne to avoid serving prison time.
The judge said Byrne had made progress on his CCO and the community would be best served if he completed that order and stopped being dishonest.
Judge Montgomery warned Byrne that if he offended before May 22 next year he would breach his suspended sentence and be back in court facing an unsympathetic judge.
Solicitor Pat Howman said there was a multitude of medical evidence to be submitted on behalf of his client.
He said Byrne suffered a prolapsed disc in his back, had an unsuccessful operation and suffered the onset of cauda equina syndrome. Byrne also suffers gout, depression, hypertension and was recently diagnosed with diabetes.
The court also received an updated psychological report which included a prognosis that Byrne’s recovery from his old habit of stealing when depressed was reliant on him recovering from depression and putting coping strategies in place.
Mr Howman said Byrne had “depression and every other condition known to mankind”.
In December 2011 detectives from the Warrnambool crime investigation unit began a six-month investigation, code-named Blueball, into Byrne’s activities.
He used false names, licence and passport numbers to make false accounts with utility services.