A man arrested over a $100,000 break-in at a Warrnambool silversmith has had his charges downgraded to handling some of the stolen jewels at his home.
Jason Ryan appeared remotely in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Friday, September 22, charged with burglary and other offences.
The court heard the Warrnambool silversmith in Lava Street was broken into between August 12 and August 29, 2022.
The 73-year-old owner had been holidaying overseas and returned home to find his shop clearly burgled and ransacked.
A prosecutor told the court an estimated $100,000 of gems were stolen from the property although that total could not be confirmed.
She said a jemmy bar left behind at the premises was forensically tested and Mr Ryan's fingerprints were located on the handle.
She said a subsequent raid at Mr Ryan's house found a bag with a number of gems and jewels, three of which were identified from the silversmith as being stolen from his business.
Tom Edwards, representing Mr Ryan, said the house police raided was an address where people were known to come and go, and the stolen gems were found in a "stash" of unrelated jewels.
He said police claimed the jemmy bar was found during their crime scene investigation.
Mr Edwards said during that investigation it was also made evident the offender, or offenders, had gloves on.
"It leaves open a possibility that the DNA found on the (jemmy) bar was placed there before the burglary commenced," he said.
After some discussion between prosecution and the defence, which was not heard in open court, the charge of burglary was dropped.
Ryan pleaded guilty to handling the stolen gems.
The court heard the man had 40 pages of criminal history and was in pre-sentence detention on charges that would be heard in a higher court.
Mr Edwards said his client would be in custody for at least the rest of this year as he awaited his next court date.
The lawyer said he was waiting for documentation in order to provide more detailed submissions to the court.
The plea hearing was adjourned until October 17. Ryan is expected to be sentenced on that day.
"All my loose gemstones that I create jewellery with are gone," the emotional silversmith said at the time.
"This is my life. It's not just a job."
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