A young man involved in a spree of crimes across Bendigo and central Victoria has been freed from prison after more than a year in custody.
Jesse Ruff, 22, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court to 65 charges, including theft, arson, burglary, damaging property, handling stolen goods, resisting police officers, possessing methamphetamine, failing to stop for police and driving offences, among others.
In sentencing this month, magistrate Patrick Southey determined Ruff’s 369 days in custody constituted a sufficient prison term, but also sentenced him to a 12-month community corrections order during which he must undertake treatment and programs.
More court news:
Ruff was involved in a series of burglaries in June and July 2017, including at a jeweller’s store in Rochester, a service station in California Gully, a business in Echuca, two mechanics at Huntly and Kangaroo Flat, a pet supplies shop in Bendigo, a pub at Axedale, an electrical supply store in Golden Square, and a distributor in East Bendigo.
Over the course of his offending Ruff stole several vehicles – some from the businesses he burgled, which were mostly customers’ vehicles – and later deliberately set some of them alight.
Among the other items Ruff stole were tools, a charity donation tin, a car battery – which was used to steal a vehicle that had a flat battery – alcohol, cigarettes, oil, soft drinks, watches, petrol and registration plates.
He was also involved in an incident last June, in which a man’s wallet – including his bank card – and the SIM card from his phone were stolen. The card was used to purchase food and petrol.
That same month, Ruff was seen driving unlicensed three times, including on one occasion in East Bendigo when he fled police who tried to intercept him, reaching 124 km/h in a 60 m/h zone.
The following month, he was again seen speeding in the same area, reaching 106 km/h when police activated their lights.
Ruff was later arrested in a stolen vehicle and illicit drugs were found in his backpack, but he refused to accompany police for a drug test.
Ruff was also seen in a photo holding a sawn-off .22 shotgun, despite him being a prohibited person for firearms.
In sentencing, Mr Southey noted there was a large number of serious offences, but expressed concern Ruff would become institutionalised if he spent much longer in custody.
“You’ve got to be really smart about where you hang out, who you hang out with,” Mr Southey said.
Ruff was also disqualified from driving for four years and ordered to pay almost $3400 in compensation.
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