Rifles stolen from sport store 'to shoot cans'

A WARRNAMBOOL court has heard a young man who stole seven high-powered firearms intended to shoot cans.

Dylan Paget, 20, of Hamilton, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week to theft and burglary.

The court heard that in May 2013, Paget and a co-accused broke into a sports shop in Gray Street, Hamilton in the early hours of the morning using bolt cutters and a tyre lever.

Paget and a co-accused stole seven guns, including large-calibre rifles.

When interviewed by police Paget denied any involvement in the burglary. A search warrant later found bolt cutters which had Paget’s DNA.

Five of the guns were later found by children playing under the Apex train in Hamilton and reported them to police.

Defence counsel Xavier Farrelly said Paget was a young man who was now at a time in his life when he was making better decisions, had matured and was ready to move on.

He said Paget had reconciled his relationship with his mother, who was giving him fantastic support, and he had asked her not to attend in court.

Mr Farrelly said while in custody Paget had attended school and completed training courses.

He said he had been instructed that Paget intended to use the guns to shoot cans.

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Kevin Mullins said the burglary was committed on May 14 this year and a search warrant was issued on May 21.

He said the firearms had been placed under the train until police had started to investigate the matter.

He said Paget had not provided any assistance or help at any stage.

Leading Senior Constable Mullins said people only needed to read the local newspaper to know that serious criminals requiring firearms were the reason country areas were being hit by such thefts.

Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said he was cynical that Paget intended to use the guns for so-called recreational use.

He said Paget had pleaded guilty to two serious offences and the type of property stolen was an aggravating factor.

He said he did not accept the purpose was for anything else but to sell the firearms. “Any unauthorised possession of a high-powered firearm in the community puts lives at risk,” Mr Klestadt said.

He said Paget had an opportunity to draw a line in the sand in terms of his offending and it was about time he made other choices about how he behaved.

“If you don’t, you can look forward to spending more time in police stations, lawyers offices and jails,” he said.

“If you think Malmsbury (Juvenile Justice Centre) is unpleasant, you’ll find Port Phillip (Prison) a whole lot more unpleasant.”

Paget has spent 112 days in youth detention and on the burglary and theft charges he was sentenced to nine months’ jail in youth detention.

Mr Klestadt said but for his plea of guilty he would have been jailed for 18 months with a minimum of 12 months.

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