28 March 2022

Burglar who stole $30,000-worth of items arrested for breaching COVID rules

| Albert McKnight
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"Stay at home" COVID road sign

Joshua Malachi James Montgomery, 20, admitted to breaching the COVID laws in August 2021. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A COVID-breaching burglar stole $30,000-worth of items, including 10 million Indonesian rupiah and his phone was later found to have Google searches such as “can I convert Indonesian to AUD”.

Police arrested Joshua Malachi James Montgomery on 15 August 2021, a few days after the ACT’s second COVID-19 lockdown began.

The now-20-year-old was away from his home and wasn’t wearing or carrying a face mask as required by coronavirus laws of the time, but earlier in the day he also had been told that he was a close contact for COVID-19 and was supposed to be in quarantine.

Court documents say Montgomery had gone inside a home in the southern Canberra suburb of Rivett on 20 July 2021 where closed-circuit television footage recorded him stealing random belongings.

The items he took included an iPad, laptops, a diamond ring, watches and a drone, as well as perfume, eye cream, a marriage affirmation book and the 10 million Indonesian rupiah (worth around $930 as at 26 March 2022).

READ ALSO Sydney luxury consultant fined for flying from COVID-19 hotspot to Canberra

After police arrested Montgomery, they examined his mobile phone. It showed a number of Google searches for phrases like “where can I exchange Indonesian money” and “can I convert Indonesian to AUD”.

Later, he was recorded talking to his partner by phone.

“I sent your mum the evidence and my mum said she’d write a statement saying you were with us when everything happened if you want?” his partner asked him.

“Yeah, please do,” he replied, saying he hoped she wouldn’t get “in trouble”.

“You’ll be fine. Just say that we’ll write the statement,” she also told him.

Montgomery went on to plead guilty to charges of burglary, theft and failing to comply with a public health direction. So far, he has spent over 200 days in custody.

READ ALSO ‘Living woman’ COVID law-breaker spent six days in custody

On Friday (25 March), his barrister Alyn Doig told the ACT Supreme Court his client had no real answer as to why most of the property had not been returned and his only recollection was trying to sell some foreign currency.

Montgomery had spent a significant amount of time in custody in his life, he said, and having spent that time locked up, “it’s hard to come to terms with things like drug addiction without real assistance, or mental health without real assistance”.

Acting Justice Richard Refshauge adjourned the matter to 31 March and remanded Montgomery in custody but said he would likely make a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order for him.

“Don’t screw up between now and then,” the acting justice told him.

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