A man who committed a string of consecutive burglaries under the influence of drugs, including cycling to a house where he stole almost $2000 worth of hats and women’s clothing, has been given a chance to change direction.
In a recently released ACT Supreme Court judgment by Justice Richard Refshauge, Robert George Bessant, 34, was described as going on a “crime spree” in September 2019.
The spree began at 3:00 am on 13 September when Bessant and another person went into the secure yard of a business in Hume and forced entry into a white ute before entering the building.
They stole a $1500 television then drove off through the business’s gates, causing a significant amount of damage. Police later recovered the utility.
Later that same morning, Bessant entered a restaurant and a drink shop in Dickson by prying open the front doors with a crowbar.
He stole a cash drawer from both businesses as well as a Bluetooth speaker from the drink shop.
Next, about 1:00 pm on 20 September 2019, he and a woman rode a bicycle to a home in Turner where he forced the door open while the woman went inside and stole two packages containing hats and women’s clothing valued at $1852.
Bessant, who worked as a groundskeeper before becoming unemployed, eventually pleaded guilty to four burglary-related charges, four counts of theft and one count of taking a car without the owner’s consent. He faced a maximum of 20 years’ jail.
Justice Refshauge noted the third burglary was committed by Bessant’s co-offender, but he was liable to it as a party.
“Mr Bessant appears to have been heavily dependent on illicit drugs at the time of the offending and this would seem to be the motivation for the offence,” Justice Refshauge said.
Justice Refshauge said Bessant started using methamphetamines when he was 27, with his use of the drugs increasing until he was taking them daily.
“Although methamphetamine was his primary drug, he used heroin up to three times a week over the eight months prior to his arrest, partly to help him come down from methadone use and to sleep,” he said.
Bessant spent 108 days in custody before Justice Refshauge sentenced him to three years and nine months’ jail.
However, he suspended the sentence for a 12-month drug and alcohol treatment order followed by a good behaviour order until March 2024.
He also told him to repay $926 to the victim who had her clothes and hats stolen – half the total amount with the other half to be paid by his co-offender.
Justice Refshauge told Bessant his offences would normally result in jail, but because they were committed while he was addicted to drugs that were “heavily impairing” his judgment and because he had taken “significant steps” to reform he had made the treatment order.
“There are people who want to bring you back to that kind of lifestyle, who will make a benefit and a profit out of that, as well as enjoying your company in criminality,” he said.
“But that is not a life that I assess you want to lead and therefore, you have got the opportunity to change that.”