A BURGLAR who stole items worth $240,000 during a drug-fuelled Bendigo crime spree was only released from jail five weeks prior to his offending, a court has heard.
Evan John Bennett, 32, appeared in the County Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to 52 charges including aggravated burglary, damaging property, and theft.
Prosecutor Jordan O'Toole told the court Bennett had been released from custody in May 2019, with his admitted crime spree spanning from June 10 to August 2 of the same year.
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During that period, Bennett and an associate broke into 14 residential and commercial properties around Bendigo and Melbourne.
The 32-year-old would use various tools to smash his way into the residences, causing damage to doors, windows, and gates.
Bennett and his associate then stole dozens of items including $17,500 in cash, Eftpos machines, luxury watches, paintings, handbags, power tools, and passports.
The total value of the stolen items was estimated to be valued at $240,000.
Bennett also used the stolen Eftpos machines to obtain more than $12,000 from the burgled businesses.
During the majority of the burglaries, the victims were not at the properties.
But on one occasion on July 11, a Bendigo motel owner confronted Bennett after he heard him break in.
The 32-year-old fled the scene before police arrived.
Bennett was first arrested on July 23 after he broke into a Melbourne hardware store.
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Police found a two-way radio, black balaclava, knife, gloves, and a bar in his possession, but he was released on bail.
Bennett continued to offend for another couple of weeks before he was arrested a second time on August 2.
He had cannabis, methamphetamine, and MDMA tablets in his possession, along with several stolen items, a tomahawk, and a bolt cutter.
Police also uncovered the storage unit that Bennett and his associate were using to hide the items they had stolen during the burglaries.
Bennett was remanded in custody and provided a no-comment interview to police.
Three victim impact statements were submitted to the County Court on Monday.
One of them was from the owner of a Bendigo milk bar that had been burgled during the crime spree.
In his statement, the owner said he had lost more than $10,000 as a result of the burglary.
He also said his young children could no longer sleep alone because they were scared someone would break in.
Another victim - a woman whose house was burgled in Caroline Springs - said she had been due to go on a holiday to Japan on the day of the burglary.
She said Bennett's crime had left her with "significant trauma" that "broke" her physically, emotionally, and financially.
The woman said she no longer felt safe in her own home.
Defence counsel John Desmond told the court Bennett was genuinely remorseful for his offending.
Mr Desmond said the crimes happened during Bennett's "spiralling" drug addiction when he didn't have the "clearest of heads".
"It was a serious but contained period of offending," the lawyer said. "It was over seven weeks, not seven months."
Mr Desmond said Bennett had a supportive family and "improving" prospects of rehabilitation.
The lawyer submitted Bennett had already served two years of "hard, COVID time" in pre-sentence detention, so he should not receive a longer jail term.
But Judge James Parrish said he would need some time to decide on the sentence.
Bennett was remanded in custody. He is due to return to the County Court next month.
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