Change your ways or else, teen warned

A PORTLAND man faced with more than 42 driving charges has escaped a heavy sentence.

Shaun Cooper, 19, of Wellington Road, faced the Koori Division of the Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to a lengthy list of charges, including burglary, possession of cannabis and unlicensed driving.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Harris told the court fingerprints belonging to the accused were found following a break-in at Brophy Family and Youth Services in Portland on October 22 last year.

Several car keys were stolen from a key safe.

On November 9 a police search of the accused’s home located a bag of cannabis.

The court also heard that on June 22 this year Cooper and a co-accused forced their way into a cool room at the Gordon Hotel in Portland where they took six slabs of bourbon and cola. 

“The accused was seen by a witness carrying a slab of alcohol to his vehicle,” Senior Constable Harris said.

Cooper was spotted by police and “a pursuit ensued through the Portland area for the next few minutes”.

The accused dumped the car but was arrested a short time later.

Between May and July Cooper was stopped by police another 10 times for driving unregistered cars, driving unsupervised on a learner’s permit and displaying false registration plates.

He was also issued with a defect notice for bald tyres.

On June 14 Cooper trespassed into an unlocked Portland home with a co-accused, stealing a PlayStation, beer and other items.

Defence counsel Michael McKenna said his client “attributed much of his juvenile offending to ice”.

He said Cooper was a Yorta Yorta man who had moved to Portland as a child with his mother after his father died.

“This is his first time in police custody. He’s had a tough time in custody as a young man,” Mr McKenna said.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said Cooper had shown no signs of change, even after a car accident in April left him in a wheelchair for four weeks.

“It would be really easy to send you to jail. You’d be off the road and you wouldn’t be a threat to anyone but I don’t like to send anyone 18 or 19 to jail,” Mr Mellas said.

Elder Uncle Lenny Clarke echoed the magistrate’s words.

“I don’t believe in jail for a young person, but you were in a car accident and what’s your response to that? You get out and drive immediately,” he told Cooper.

“Your on a slippery slide of falling into oblivion.”

Cooper was issued with an 18-month community corrections order and had his licence cancelled.

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