Meat bandit’s taste for theft

A MAN with a penchant for lamb was homeless and penniless when he stole two packages of the meat from a supermarket as a need and not greed, a court has been told.

The Mildura Magistrates’ Court was on Wednesday told 39-year-old Benjamin Moreland had lost his capacity to regulate a normal life when he committed the thefts from a Coles supermarket and had no memory of the offending.

The court was told that early last year, soon after the break-up of a long-term relationship, Moreland twice entered the supermarket and failed to pay for the goods before leaving the store.

On the first occasion, Moreland chose lamb cutlets, along with other items, but failed to scan the meat at a self-serve area before walking out with the product.

A second charge of theft arose after the accused stuffed a marinated lamb down his pants and left the store, the total cost of the meat amounting to $41.

Defence counsel Gavan Tellefson said Moreland’s life had been significantly affected by a chronic back injury and he had become dependent on a range of drugs, particularly morphine, as a consequence.

Mr Tellefson said a community corrections order imposed in 2016 to undertake community work was unsuitable because of his client’s back injury and a term of imprisonment over the fresh charges would come as “a hell of a shock”.

He said Moreland had taken “enormous steps” to rehabilitate himself and the offending was not at the higher end of the dishonesty scale.

Magistrate Jon Klestadt said the outstanding 180 hours of community work over 19 charges in 2016 including theft, burglarly and obtain property by deception was “the elephant in the room”.

However, Mr Klestadt said he accepted that as a result of physical injury the accused man had become addicted to strong medication and which had left him in a “very reduced state”.

He said Moreland had engaged in a significant amount of criminal behaviour largely to keep himself alive.

Mr Klestadt fined Moreland $250 on the theft charges and a further $1000 for breaching a community corrections order.

“It’s very expensive lamb,” Mr Klestadt told Moreland.

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