14 December 2021

Dad with 'no money for Christmas' commits burglaries after swindling $9000 from footy club

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

Father-of-two James Gregory Campbell Elliott has been sentenced for fraud and burglary charges. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Juggling funding a drug habit while providing for his two young daughters, a father swindled $9000 from a football club. Later, he felt so under pressure from having no money to buy them Christmas presents he committed two burglaries.

On Monday (13 December), two days before his 36th birthday, the ACT Magistrates Court heard James Gregory Campbell Elliott would eventually be deported due to his crimes as he is a New Zealand citizen, despite living in Australia since he was a baby.

Court documents show he went to Eastlake Football Club in Griffith in June 2019 to collect about $1555 in winnings, asking for $50 of it to be paid as a cheque.

But he altered the cheque and the next day cashed it in for $9000, which was paid into his bank account.

Also, early in the morning of 7 December 2020, Elliott used a concrete block to break the window of CBR Auto in Greenway before searching the store. Shortly afterwards, he used a large rock to break into the store Gas Tune.

Police spotted him running away and caught up to him.

“I’m a f–king idiot. I f–ked up and I have no money for Christmas,” he told them.

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Elliott’s lawyer Claire Natoli said her client made a conscious decision to alter then cash the club’s cheque, but suggested he did so due to the quantity of drugs he was taking at the time. She also said he had been providing financially for his two daughters, both under three, while funding his drug habit.

When it came to the burglaries, Ms Natoli said her client had been using “a large quantity and variety of drugs” and felt the pressure from the upcoming 2020 Christmas period with no money to buy presents.

The court heard that as he had breached an intensive corrections order (ICO) with this fresh offending, his visa had been cancelled and he would eventually be deported to New Zealand, a country he hasn’t lived in since he crossed the Tasman Sea when he was six months old, or the Villawood Detention Centre.

“No doubt you’re in difficulty on a number of fronts,” Magistrate Robert Cook told him.

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He did note Elliott had committed the offences due to his drug habit and how it was coming up to Christmas, as well as that the football club had recovered the stolen funds.

Elliott, a carpenter from Isabella Plains, had already been in custody for about 12 months, but only two weeks of that was for these new crimes before his ICO was cancelled.

He pleaded guilty to charges of obtaining property by deception and burglary and was given jail sentences of 10 and 11 months respectively.

While his total sentence ends in November 2022 he will be eligible for parole after about 16 months in April 2022 with time served.

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