Warrnambool man fined after stealing tip jar funds for food and drugs

A young man stole cash from two Warrnambool entertainment venues and used the money to buy food and drugs, a court was told.

David Wright, 23, of Margaret Lane, Warrnambool, stole $800 in cash from the Whalers Inn and Warrnambool RSL on Wednesday, May 8.

He appeared in Warrnambool Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with theft, possessing and using methamphetamine. 

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Greg Kew said CCTV footage showed Wright stealing a tips jar valued about $200 from the Whalers Inn on Wednesday afternoon.

He said the accused then attended the Warrnambool RSL where footage showed him approach the cash counter and put a container filled with $300 in coins into his backpack before leaving the premises. 

Wright attended the venue again 50 minutes later and stole a second container also valued at $300. He was arrested by police after returning to the Whalers Inn on Friday. 

A search of the accused revealed a black spectacles case containing a glass ice pipe and a zip lock bag filled with 0.44 grams of methamphetamine. Wright told police he had smoked the drug about 4pm that day. 

The court heard the accused made full admissions to the cash theft, stating that he used the money to buy “half a gram of bud (marijuana) and a feed”. 

Wright told police he had “gone off the rails” since his mum’s death, and that he smoked cannabis and ice to “get rid of the images in [his] head”.  Solicitor Jacob Robertson said Wright had an intellectual disability and limited support. 

“He is very much on his own,” he said. “He has had a very difficult past which he is dealing with by his own admission as ‘not very well’.” 

Mr Robertson said Wright had been “severely impacted” by the sudden death of his best friend in mid-2016 and his mother in July 2017.

 He said the accused had started using drugs to deal with his negative emotions, however it soon led him to commit crimes. Wright was found suitable for a justice plan that Mr Robertson said could take up to six weeks to prepare. Magistrate John Lesser said a fine was more preferable. 

Wright was convicted and fined $750. He was also ordered to pay compensation for the money stolen.