A MAN who impersonated a detective after stealing police uniforms during a Dunolly crime spree has been jailed for 18 months.
Jake O'Brien, 26, appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Thursday where he pleaded guilty to 30 charges including dangerous driving, theft, burglary, and impersonating a police officer.
The court heard sometime on December 6, 2019, O'Brien broke into and stole an unlocked White Nissan Ute.
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He drove the stolen vehicle to a Dunolly address and broke into the home by removing the back fly-screen door and smashing a window.
The court heard O'Brien ransacked the property, stealing jewellery, tools, tyres, and police uniforms. The estimated cost of the stolen items was $10,000.
O'Brien then drove to another rural address in Dunolly and broke into a shipping container at the site. He stole mail addressed to a different person, tyres, and a subwoofer.
O'Brien also broke into another vehicle parked at Separation Road in Dunolly and stole items including a GPS.
Later that day, police were notified that O'Brien was door-knocking homes dressed in a police uniform and referring to himself as a detective.
The court heard O'Brien was trying to sell the stolen jewellery and other items to residents.
An officer saw O'Brien wearing the police uniform and carrying a large duffel bag.
The policeman attempted to arrest O'Brien, but the offender struck the officer and sprinted off.
O'Brien was eventually arrested and searched. He was found with a knife in his pocket.
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The court heard he was drug affected and deemed unfit for interview. He was taken to a Bendigo hospital and then interviewed the next day.
O'Brien told officers he had been smoking synthetic cannabis in the lead up to the offending.
The court heard then on January 10 this year, O'Brien attended a bike store in North Geelong and stole a helmet.
He left the store and saw a white delivery truck that was parked with the engine running.
The court heard O'Brien entered the truck and drove off, crashing through a boom gate and causing $2000 in damage. The incident was captured on CCTV footage.
O'Brien then sped off, driving towards Melbourne on the Princes Freeway. He crashed into other cars, swerved into opposite lanes, and cut across three lanes of traffic.
The truck's doors were left open during the incident, with items falling out of the vehicle and onto the road.
Police tried to stop O'Brien as he made his way from Geelong to Greensborough in Melbourne's north.
The officers activated lights and sirens, but O'Brien continued to speed off, colliding with more cars and coming onto the median strip at different times.
Police eventually stopped O'Brien and removed him from the truck. He was found wearing the stolen bike helmet with a knife in his pants.
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Defence lawyer Stephanie Mawby told the court O'Brien was last year released from custody for the 2019 matters and sent to The Cottage rehabilitation facility in Shepparton.
Ms Mawby said her client stopped using drugs in that period, but relapsed back to using cannabis and abusing alcohol at the end of 2020.
Ms Mawby submitted the magistrate should consider sentencing O'Brien to a community corrections order with a focus on mental health support and treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
But Magistrate Sharon McRae said she would not consider a corrections order because O'Brien had previously breached orders.
Ms McRae said the driving matters were particularly serious and O'Brien was lucky he didn't kill or seriously injure anyone.
The magistrate also said the impersonating a police officer offence should not be tolerated because it undermined the public's trust in emergency service workers.
Ms McRae convicted and sentenced O'Brien to 18 months in jail with a non-parole period of 12 months. His 159 days in pre-sentence detention was reckoned as already served.
If O'Brien did not plead guilty, he would have been sentenced to a 24-month term of imprisonment.
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