Jail time for Kennington home invasion

A Kennington man who burgled a family’s home while they slept has been convicted and sentenced to 18 months' jail.

Damian Gray, 26, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Friday to entering a home on Sternberg Street  in November last year and stealing a Ford Territory sports utility vehicle and Hyosung motorcycle.

The court heard the keys to the SUV were stolen from inside the family home before Gray and a co-accused stole the vehicles.

The SUV collided with a water metre and fence at the property during the burglary and was later found abandoned at an oval on Neale Street, 

Gray used a credit card stolen in the burglary to purchase goods valued at $75 from a service station later that night and the motorcycle was recovered in Warrnambool on January 3.

Prosecutor David Somerton said Gray intended to exchange the vehicles for methamphetamine and was “highly intoxicated” at the time.

Gray’s solicitor, Kate Youngson, said her client led “a very sad and troubled life” and was “sadly no stranger to the criminal justice system”, but his offending was the result of an intellectual disability which left him with an mental capacity “comparable to a child of about eight or nine”.

Ms Youngson said Gray’s disability put him at a “serious disadvantage” and meant he often found himself influenced by others.

“But for the intellectual disability, Mr Gray wouldn’t be before the court today,” she said. She said he developed a “fairly heavy” cannabis habit by the age of 15 but was “starting to get back on track” in cutting down on his drug use when he became involved with the co-accused.

“It’s something he’s struggled with all of his his life,” she said.

In sentencing, magistrate Bruce Cottrill acknowledged Gray’s “difficult upbringing”, saying he had “succumbed, sadly, to drugs of dependence from a very young age”.

But Mr Cottrill said the aggravated burglary had a “traumatic effect” on the victim and his family, resulting in an “ongoing psychological impact, on not only the parents, but the children that were home at the time”, and there “could be no other outcome than a term of imprisonment”.

Gray also pleaded guilty to stealing $300 worth of meat from a McIvor Road supermarket and will be eligible for parole within 12 months, having already spent 51 days in custody.