T-shirt bandit boss Jack McLean back before court

GANG: One of the T-shirt gang members during a break in.
GANG: One of the T-shirt gang members during a break in.

A CRIMINAL involved in a string of break-ins across the North East has faced court charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Prior to being sentenced on a string of charges in the Wodonga County Court last year, Jack McLean wrote a letter to Judge Marilyn Harbison.

In it, he claimed to have been on 23-hour lockdown while on remand, followed by 18-hour lockdown following prisoner riots in 2014.

“The impact emotionally and mentally was huge,” he wrote to the judge.

“I really struggled being locked in for long periods of time.

“In saying this, I really did have a long time to think about my life and where it’s heading.”

He wrote that his daughter didn’t recognise him and said the pain of the lockdown had “brought me to breaking point, however really made me think about my actions”.

But checks with the remand centre showed McLean spent up to 11-and-a-half hours each day out of his cell, walking the prison as a cleaner.

Prosecutor David O’Doherty described the letter as a “sham” and a “blatant lie, boldface”, which the judge said she tended to agree with.

“I think it is likely true that this is the case,” Ms Harbison said.

“The fact you have been prepared to lie to me casts some doubt over the issue of rehabilitation.”

Police allege his actions amount to a bid to pervert the course of justice and he was charged on Anzac Day.

McLean, 24, appeared in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on Tuesday on videolink from jail, where he is still serving his sentence.

The court heard McLean had wanted the matter adjourned for two weeks, at which time he intended to plead guilty.

But magistrate Ian Watkins questioned his authority to hear the matter given the seriousness of the charge. 

“I don’t think I have jurisdiction here,” he asked police prosecutor Penny Lawler.

“No, I don’t think so sir,” she replied.

She said his lawyer had misunderstood the process. 

The matter was adjourned for a committal mention on July 13.