Jail ends Portland fugitive’s freedom

A PORTLAND man who fled the state after he breached a suspended sentence following a spate of thefts has been jailed.

Dennis Cooper, 28, of Bellara Court, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court this week to multiple theft and burglary charges dating back to 2005.

The court heard some of the offences were committed around the Wangaratta and Mansfield area and others in Melbourne.

In September 2005 Cooper was in Mansfield when he walked to the town’s showgrounds and smashed a window to get into the office, where he was later found by police.

A month earlier Cooper climbed a security fence to get into the Department of Sustainability and Environment depot and siphoned fuel from two utes. 

That offending breached a four-month jail sentence suspended for two years.

He also had a criminal history for offences in four other states.

The court heard Cooper returnedR to Victoria this year and on October 19 was pulled over by police, who found he had five warrants out for his arrest.

Defence counsel Xavier Farrelly said the reason Cooper had not handed himself in when he returned to Victoria was because he wanted to support his partner and two children before dealing with the matters.

He said Cooper had a difficult childhood. 

He went to live with his father in Queensland when he was nine and then hitchhiked from Queensland back to Victoria when he was 12.

He said Cooper had turned his life around and was supported in court by his partner, his mother and step-father.

Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said he took into account Cooper’s current situation but he couldn’t ignore the fact that he had absconded seven years ago.

He said people needed to know they couldn’t take the opportunity to run and then expect all was forgiven. 

Mr Klestadt said he could not be seen to be rewarding Cooper for fleeing justice.

Cooper was convicted and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment with one month to serve as part of a two-year suspended sentence.

He has already served 19 days in custody.

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