T-shirt bandit Jack McLean free from jail, despite lying to a County Court judge

Jack McLean

Jack McLean

The leader of the T-shirt bandits group of thieves, who was caught out lying to a court to avoid a harsher sentence, has successfully avoided another jail term.

Jack McLean, 25, was sentenced to one year and nine months in jail last year for his role in a string of thefts and burglaries across the North East – conducted with a T-shirt covering his face to conceal his identity.

But in trying to reduce that sentence, he wrote a letter to the County Court claiming he was on 23-hour lockdown on remand, which the Office of Public Prosecutions discovered was a blatant lie.

McLean again appeared in Melbourne County Court on Friday, where he was sentenced to a two-year community corrections order with 120 hours unpaid work for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Judge Gerard Mullaly warned McLean that committing another crime would end with him back in jail.

“I don’t think I’ll forget this case, what you put in the letter, so if you come back within two years I’ll remember exactly what I said,” he said.

T-SHIRT DISGUISE: Jack McLean led a group of thieves who became notorious in the North East after targeting businesses in Wodonga and surrounding small towns.

T-SHIRT DISGUISE: Jack McLean led a group of thieves who became notorious in the North East after targeting businesses in Wodonga and surrounding small towns.

McLean’s lawyer told the court his client was getting drug counselling, had passed random urine tests and even asked to be shifted away from a working unit containing former drug associates.

Judge Mullaly said the attitude was “very encouraging” and convinced him not to give McLean more time in jail, which was the usual sentence for that type of crime. 

“There is every indication you have not resumed drug use,” he said.

“It does take an effort to disassociate yourself from other drug users, but it’s a critical thing to do - getting off drugs involves not taking them and not being around people who do.

“Your insight in taking yourself away from those associates is to your credit and makes me more optimistic than I may have otherwise been.”

McLean’s partner and mother of their young daughter continued to stand by him and he has been out of jail for about two months, living in Wodonga and working with his father.

“It is hard for you to get other work in the district due to your notoriety, but hopefully the passing of time will see you fully employed and able to make a useful contribution to your community,” Judge Mullaly said.

“The community is better protected if you are able to stay out of trouble, establish and raise your family and make a contribution to your community.”