Theft ordeal ends for Ebden couple

THE owners of an Ebden property are “absolutely” relieved that two men who stole goods valued at up to $180,000 from their home have been jailed.

The couple were in Wodonga Magistrates Court yesterday as Benjamin Kennedy, 26, of Collins Street in Wodonga, pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to two years jail with a non-parole period of 15 months.

Co-accused Troy Hawkins, 39, of Kelly Street, Wodonga, was sentenced two weeks ago to 18 months jail with a minimum of six months.

The owners of the Murray Valley Highway property were away when Kennedy and Hawkins broke in on August 3 and stole a TV and computers, cheque books, cash and passports, alcohol and jewellery — and a new Land Cruiser valued at $120,000.

The couple, who did not wish to be named, said they were still picking up the pieces.

“We’ve been through an awful lot since the robbery,” the man said outside court.

“It’s been a very long process ... Some things can’t be replaced, like her engagement ring or the watch my work gave me for years of service.

“You don’t get that stuff back — things that mean nothing to them.”

Kennedy, who appeared via videolink, apologised to the couple — “I’d like to apologise to the victims as well ... I’m sorry, sir.”

The court was told Kennedy and Hawkins hired a car in Wodonga, asking for a station wagon to move house.

Two days later, they drove to the Ebden house — next door to Hawkins’ parents’ home. They entered through the back door and loaded the car.

Police said the value of goods other than the Land Cruiser was about $60,000. Nearly all had not been recovered.

The hire car bogged as they were leaving and they used the victims’ ute to pull it out.

The men were arrested on August 12. Kennedy denied involvement, saying he’d given the hire car to Hawkins, but later made full admissions.

Kennedy’s solicitor, Nick Hanos, said his client had “an appalling record” — in and out of jail since he was 16 — with drugs a big part of it.

But Mr Hanos said Hawkins had been “the leader” — he knew the property and Kennedy was new to the area.

“I suggest my client is the apprentice,” he said.

Magistrate John Murphy responded: “I would have thought, with his priors, he’s graduated from his apprenticeship.”