Jail term reduced after Lake Eppalock swim escape

Anthony Illaretti, 33, was spotted in the waters of Lake Eppalock after crashing his motorbike while fleeing police.
Anthony Illaretti, 33, was spotted in the waters of Lake Eppalock after crashing his motorbike while fleeing police.

A HEATHCOTE man who waded into the waters of Lake Eppalock to flee police has had six months taken off his jail sentence.

Anthony Illaretti, 33, was jailed for two years in April after pleading guilty to 31 charges including burglary, handling stolen goods and theft.

He appealed the sentence in the Bendigo County Court on Tuesday.

The court heard Illaretti fled police while riding a stolen motorbike at 140 kilometres per hour on the McIvor Highway on January 20. The motorbike was later found damaged and on its side on Moorabbee Foreshore Road.

A witness told police they spotted a man in the water of Lake Eppalock soon after, but Illaretti managed to avoid arrest.

A passer-by noticed him hitchhiking on the McIvor Highway the following day with extensive grazes to his back and arms.

He was picked up and driven into Heathcote. Police were notified and he was arrested soon after.

It was the latest in a series of offences committed by Illaretti.

In March 2015, Illaretti stole three flatscreen TVs from a Wodonga store during trading hours.

One month later, he stole $73,400 worth of mobile phones and accessories from a Telstra store in Wodonga.

He was then involved in a police pursuit into New South Wales.

Illaretti provided a false name to Bendigo police officers three times in the space of two days over the last New Year’s. He tested positive to driving under the influence of ice.

Illaretti also stole the number plates off a car parked at the Bendigo Railway Station.

Defence counsel Cynthia Lynch argued Illaretti’s offending had “de-escalated” in recent years after he spent extensive periods of time in jail in New South Wales.

She said the birth of his child was an incentive to stay out of trouble.

Judge Frank Gucciardo said the sentence should not be “crippling” to Illaretti’s chances at rehabilitation.

He was jailed for 18 months with an 11-month non-parole period. He has spent 267 days in custody.