'You're joking?': Magistrate shows no sympathy

A SOLICITOR who tried to save her ice addict client from jail for stealing from a Wodonga couple as they slept in their home was yesterday told by a magistrate she “had to be joking”.

In Wodonga court, magistrate John Murphy said a person’s home was their castle, and people had the right to be safe in their beds.

Mr Murphy was told Benjamin Kennedy, 25, broke into a home in Delatite Court on March 13 last year, entering through an unlocked side gate and then an open sliding door.

Kennedy, who is due to become a father for the first time in just weeks, stole two mobile phones from a dining table and then entered the bedroom where a man and woman slept.

Police said he took a handbag from the foot of the bed but solicitor Sally Wilson said Kennedy claimed the bag was stolen from a lounge room.

Kennedy later used credit cards to buy an online porn membership, $556 worth of Gold Class cinema tickets, $191 in items from Safeway and a $697 notebook computer from Officeworks.

Ms Wilson said Kennedy and his now pregnant partner had been having issues at the time of the offence.

She told Mr Murphy that Kennedy had accumulated a big list of priors for his young age.

But she said it was hoped his relationship and impending fatherhood would be a turning point.

“He is devastated that he may miss the birth of his child,” she told the court.

“This is the first time that he’s actually had something to get out of jail for; the first time he has had a reason to stay out of trouble.”

Kennedy had just finished serving seven months in jail in NSW when he was extradited for the Wodonga offences.

He was released and paroled on December 20 but was immediately taken into custody in Victoria.

Ms Wilson’s plea for a community corrections order was met with a stern “no” from Mr Murphy, who said the victims had to be considered.

“What about the poor woman lying in her bed?” he said.

“Your home is your castle.

“We’re in a hell of a lot of trouble in this society if something is not done about ice.

“This is an aggravated burglary. It is too serious for a community corrections order.”

Mr Murphy said any police officer would attest to the “huge problem” ice had created.

“I don’t sit here as a social worker, I can’t just be making decisions based on sympathy.

“People have a right to go to sleep at night in their homes without people coming in.”

Kennedy was sentenced to 18 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of six months and ordered to pay $1984 in compensation for the stolen goods.