A burglar cost some Bendigo businesses thousands of dollars after he cut phone and power lines to their premises while breaking in to steal items and cash.
Between February and April 2018, 44-year-old Martin Prouse broke into eight businesses in the Bendigo area, during which he cut phone and power lines, smashed security systems and cameras, disabled alarm systems, and sometimes removed fuse and junction boxes.
"That behaviour in particular caused those businesses considerable loss and disruption, sometimes for several weeks without internet or phone lines," County Court Judge Patricia Riddell said.
"Restoration of those services cost each business between $800 and $14,000."
During the burglaries, Prouse stole personal items - including mobile phones and tablets - as well as cash, in sums of $800 to $4600.
After these burglaries Prouse was arrested and admitted to the offending.
He was charged and bailed with strict conditions, but soon after began using drugs again.
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In July 2018, he committed a similar break-in on a business, then returned to the same place the very next day to again commit a burglary.
But on this second attempt, police interrupted Prouse.
There was a confrontation and Prouse said to the officers: "I've got a knife, I'll f**king stab you, f**k off or I'll kill you".
"On being grabbed, you fought back aggressively, attempting to punch the officers, which constitutes the charge of resist emergency worker. You were subdued with capsicum spray," Judge Riddell said.
Prouse pleaded guilty in the County Court to 10 charges of burglary, nine charges of theft, six charges of interference with facilities, two charges of resisting emergency workers, possessing methamphetamine, and committing an indictable offence on bail.
Judge Riddell said the owner of one business gave a victim impact statement that described the disruption to his business and the worry he felt at the possibility of being the target of such a crime again.
"The fact that these were not homes but commercial premises may give a different complexion to your offending, but it does not diminish the seriousness of the offending," she said.
"These are, in the main, businesses belonging to individuals working hard to succeed and to serve the community in rural areas.
"Their losses, and the inconvenience they experience, are real."
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Judge Riddell said the burglaries were premeditated and had an "element of sophistication", given Prouse's efforts to cut power, phone lines and alarms.
"Despite being arrested and bailed, that did not deter you from committing further offences. That is an aggravating feature of the July offending," she said.
Judge Riddell noted Prouse had a "reasonably long" criminal history, particularly for burglaries, and had served several terms of imprisonment.
But she said Prouse had suffered what he called a "major nervous breakdown" after he was placed in custody in July 2018 and was hospitalised.
He had since disclosed abuse he suffered as a child, Judge Riddell said, and was introduced to drugs at the age of 10.
Prouse had also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, and experienced cognitive difficulties.
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Judge Riddell said Prouse had demonstrated he was keen to undertake treatment, and his mental health was likely to deteriorate further in custody.
"In my view, the appropriate sentence here is one which approximates the time you have served and sees you released onto a community correction order, so that you can fully engage in therapeutic treatment in the community," she said.
Judge Riddell sentenced Prouse to 760 days' imprisonment, as well as an 18-month community corrections order under which he must undergo drug, alcohol and mental health treatment as directed.
"This is a real opportunity for you to choose how the second half of your life looks," she told Prouse.
Prouse had already served 744 days of his sentence.
Had he not pleaded guilty, he would have faced up to three years and 10 months in custody.