12 January 2022

Dead man's home burgled by serial criminal who fled police, leaving behind his co-accused

| Albert McKnight
ACT Courts

Mark William Burge, 34, pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including aggravated burglary. Photo: File.

A former cattle station worker with a long list of offences to his name “enticed” his co-offender to help him burgle the home of a dead man before leaving his partner-in-crime behind when he fled from police.

When sentencing 34-year-old Mark William Burge on Tuesday (11 January), the ACT Supreme Court allowed him to leave custody after he had spent 229 days behind bars over the incident.

Acting Justice Richard Refshauge said Burge and his co-offender drove a sedan to Waramanga on the afternoon of 11 December 2019 and parked in the driveway before stealing items from the house and putting them in their car.

A neighbour saw what was happening and contacted the dead man’s son, who in turn contacted police.

Police parked in front of the sedan when they arrived. Burge came out the back of the home and got into his car, despite police trying to stop him.

He hit an officer in the leg when he closed his door, although Justice Refshauge said there was no evidence this was intentional. He then crashed his sedan into the police car, damaging its front. He continued to reverse, forcing an officer to jump into a bush.

He drove away, chased by police, refusing to stop for them as well as speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road.

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The co-offender was arrested at the house and told police Burge had asked him to help remove property from it. Justice Refshauge said the man had been “enticed” into committing the burglary. This man has not yet been sentenced.

Burge eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, common assault, damaging Commonwealth property and dangerous driving over the incident.

Justice Refshauge said he had a “very significant” criminal history, racking up 49 offences as an adult, including matters of violence and had already served time behind bars.

He said the Canberra-born Burge had worked in the construction industry and in factories and on a cattle station in Queensland, and he had three children to three different partners.

READ ALSO Accused burglar with criminal history that ‘runs for many, many pages’ refused bail

Burge also had a long history of substance abuse, he said, with his most recent alcohol usage reaching a 10-pack of Wild Turkey each day while methamphetamine became his drug of choice.

Justice Refshauge said he had shown remorse, regret and had said he was smoking 17 points of meth at the time of the recent offences.

Burge was sentenced to three years and nine months’ jail, with the remainder suspended from Tuesday (11 January) for him to be released on a two-year Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order, after which he must fulfil good behaviour obligations until the end of his total sentence.

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