21 November 2023

'Ice bender' behind machete-wielding Ivan Djerke's two home invasions

| Albert McKnight
ACT Magistrates Court. Photo: file.

Ivan Stephen Djerke, 47, was allowed to be released from custody when he was sentenced. Photo: File.

Not having slept for days while on an “ice bender”, a drug addict donned a mask and invaded the two homes of his five sleeping victims.

While 47-year-old Ivan Stephen Djerke admitted to his crimes, he was released from custody on Tuesday (21 November) after spending over 580 days behind bars in order to complete the court’s drug rehabilitation program.

He and his co-offender had gone inside a home in Kambah at around 5 am on 4 April 2022 wearing masks, gloves and hoods, and one of them carried a knife.

When a woman woke up, the co-offender held a knife near her finger and demanded money and drugs while Djerke rifled through the room.

One of the offenders punched the woman in the face twice and Djerke held a knife near her head while demanding her belongings.

They made her write her passwords down, then stole her laptop and car. They later transferred $300 from her bank account and used it to buy food that was delivered to Djerke’s home.

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The next day, the pair broke into a home in Holt, where there were two 18-year-old siblings as well as their mother and aunt.

Djerke, wielding a machete, kicked open a bedroom door to find a woman inside. He swore at her and demanded money.

Meanwhile, the co-offender went into the 18-year-old woman’s bedroom and threatened her. Her brother arrived and tasered the co-offender, who then hit him with a crowbar. The co-offender also threatened to harm their dog.

However, Djerke then returned a phone that had been stolen from one of the siblings and apologised before they left – although they had taken a hard drive and a speaker.

The 18-year-old brother said it had been an “utterly terrifying experience”, and the trauma had left him and his sister with fears, anxieties and nightmares.

Djerke, who was arrested later in April 2022 and had remained in custody until his sentencing, originally pleaded not guilty and was committed for trial before deciding to plead guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery by joint commission.

The ACT Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said the crimes were committed during an “ice bender” and did not involve sophisticated planning – for instance, they ordered food multiple times using stolen funds and had it delivered to Djerke’s address.

She said there was actual and threatened violence during the home invasions, although there was no evidence that it had been Djerke who had inflicted the violence.

He has a history of addiction to heroin and methamphetamine and has a significant criminal history, while the Chief Justice said there was no doubt his drug use was the reason for the recent offending.

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He asked to be granted a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order (DATO), the court’s drug rehabilitation program.

“If you’re lucky, you get 70 summers on Earth. I’ve pissed away 48 of them and I don’t want to waste any more,” he told the author of a court report.

He has been working as a peer mentor at the Alexander Machonochie Centre, and a report said he supported new inmates.

He had suffered a difficult and violent upbringing while his family thought he now had the capacity to “turn the corner”, Chief Justice McCallum said.

She ultimately sentenced Djerke to three years and eight months’ jail from Tuesday, but ordered it to be served by a DATO. This meant he was able to be released from custody to enter a residential rehabilitation program that day. His DATO ends in July 2027.

The co-offender also pleaded guilty to his role but is yet to be sentenced.

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