4 April 2024

Burglaries, robbery and thefts committed across Canberra when man was 'chasing drugs'

| Albert McKnight
Court Coat of Arms

Jack Thomas Hambilton, 20, has been convicted of charges that include burglary and robbery. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Only just out of prison on parole, a man started “chasing drugs” and embarked on a two-month crime spree of burglaries, robbery and thefts across Canberra.

Jack Thomas Hambilton was released from a NSW prison on parole in late May 2023 and started committing his crimes to pay for drugs, particularly methamphetamine, before he was arrested and locked back up in late July 2023.

On 1 June 2023, he stole a $3000 electric mountain bike from Anaconda in Gungahlin by walking it out of the store.

Hambilton then went into Highball Bar in Civic on 12 July 2023 and tried to open a cash register with a knife and screwdriver when he wasn’t being watched.

After he failed to break into it, he went into a storeroom and stole items belonging to the bar’s staff, including keys, headphones and a Swiss army knife.

Next, on 28 July 2023, he stole a $20 jacket from Best & Less in Phillip before going into the shop’s storeroom and again stealing various items belonging to staff, including bank cards, coins and a wallet.

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Lastly, he went into an office for the Bharat Restaurant and Bharat International Spice and Sweet Centre in Belconnen on 30 July 2023, picked up two bags and tried to leave through the restaurant.

When the owner grabbed the bags and tried to stop him, Hambilton punched him in the face twice before ditching the bags and running away.

“He lives with the memory of your attempt to steal property from his business and your assault upon him when he tried to stop you,” ACT Supreme Court Acting Justice Anthony Hopkins told Hambilton in his sentencing remarks, released last week.

“What you did has made him feel unsafe and challenged his sense of confidence in the world.”

Hambilton pleaded guilty to charges that included burglary, robbery and theft and Acting Justice Hopkins accepted he was remorseful.

“You explained that whilst under the influence of illicit substances, when you are ‘chasing drugs’ and committing crimes to pay for them, you ‘block out the victims’,” he said.

“But you have also said that looking back, and when not under the influence of illicit substances, you often think about how you would feel if you were in your victims’ shoes, and that ‘this is not nice to think about’.”

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Hambilton endured childhood trauma, left school in Year 9, started taking meth every day from when he was 16 and has been diagnosed with several mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Acting Justice Hopkins said that he was dependent on illicit substances, and this substantially contributed to his offending. He had asked to be assessed for a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order.

However, he later said he no longer wanted such an order as he believed it would set him up to fail.

“Mr Hambilton, only you can decide when the time is right to make the commitment, reach out for help and start to climb the mountain,” Acting Justice Hopkins said.

The 20-year-old was convicted and sentenced to 22 months’ jail with a non-parole period of 11 months which means he is eligible to be released from August 2024.

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