ONE man's "out of control crime spree" which targeted gun safes and vehicles on rural properties was motivated by an expensive drug habit, a County Court Judge has said.
Former factory worker Kevin Grose struck at farms and rural properties at locations including Charlton, Wedderburn, Wendouree and Wychitella in late 2020.
He pleaded guilty to multiple charges of burglary and theft, and will spend at least three years and eight months in prison for his crimes.
Judge Paul Lacava described the offending as "somewhat prolific and repetitive".
He said Grose, aged 28, had sometimes acted with an accomplice and other times alone, but had clearly masterminded the thefts.
"You engaged in offending which was repetitive, planned and targeted," Judge Lacava said.
"This was not one-off offending. There was ample time for you to stop and think about what you were doing."
Judge Lacava said the thefts were especially serious because Grose was unauthorised to possess firearms at the time he stole four longarm firearms from a secure gun cabinet.
"You have not disclosed to the police the whereabouts of the firearms stolen by you or who you passed them onto," he said.
"There were two 12-gauge shotguns and two rifles stolen but not recovered."
Judge Lacava rejected suggestions that the crimes had been committed due to any psychological distress experienced by Grose, but said he could accept that Grose may now be feeling depressed about his situation.
"I regard your moral culpability for this offending as high and should not be reduced because of any psychological impairment," he said.
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The court had earlier been told that Grose had been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, an adjustment disorder and a substance abuse disorder.
"While I accept you may have been suffering these, I do not accept that your psychological impairment contributed to this offending," he said.
Judge Lacava said Grose had been stabbed in 2017 and had reported suffering flashbacks, ongoing trauma and nightmares.
However, he said the motive for the thefts were not related to his injury.
A report before the court stated that in the three months leading up to his arrest Grose had been consuming one gram of ice and cocaine daily, along with five to 10 MDMA tablets.
Judge Lacava said the purpose of the thefts was to get items that could be quickly coverted into cash to support a drug habit.
"Clearly you have an entrenched drug addiction of long standing," he said.
"Whether or not you can be rehabilitated will depend on whether you respond to drug counselling and treatment which you will clearly need upon your release from prison."
Judge Lacava said Grose would receive a discounted sentence in recognition of his guilty plea. He said he took into account charges of dangerous driving and using a mobile phone while driving, and would set a full term of five-and-a-half years in prison with a non-parole term of three years and eight months.
Grose has already served 580 days in pre-sentence detention.
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