Teens stole dinghy, crabs

A COOLOOLA Cove teenager who stole a dinghy to get home from Rainbow Beach on April 30 and took crabs from pots along the way was told he would need to work hard to earn back the respect of his community.

Bryan James Hillcoat, 17, was one of three youths who took a 14-foot aluminium dinghy from Carlo Point boat ramp, using a motor from an inflatable dinghy left at a Rainbow Waters Holiday Park campsite and a fuel tank taken from a tender boat owned by Tin Can Bay Houseboats.

Gympie Magistrates Court heard Hillcoat and two other males, another 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, dragged the inflatable dinghy from the campsite to the boat ramp, unhooked the motor and placed it on the aluminium dinghy.

Realising there was not enough fuel to get to Cooloola Cove, they took off to Tin Can Bay Marina to find a fuel tank. On the way home they stole four mud crabs and two sand crabs.

The trio was found stuck on a sandbank up Muddy Creek in Cooloola Cove and officers said swearing and revving of the motor could be heard from miles away.

Police drove the 16-year-old home and charged Hillcoat and his co-accused with four counts of stealing and unlawful use of a vessel to commit an indictable offence.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns told the court they used $45 worth of petrol which was payed back by the two older teens. She said the crabs were released back into the creek alive.

She asked Magistrate Maxine Baldwin to order a lengthy period of community service as punishment, given Hillcoat’s young age and the fact alcohol contributed.

Defence lawyer Corey Jenkins said his client was sober on the night and fully co-operated with police. He told the court Hillcoat had no history of offending and was the first to admit that what he did was stupid.

“In some ways it was rather ingenious but it was illegal and at the expense of the boat owners. Your biggest issue is Cooloola Cove is only a small community and now you’re going to be branded as the teenage lout who took the boat,” she said.

Hillcoat, of Nautilus Drive, was placed on a good behaviour bond for 12 months and ordered to do 60 hours of community service.

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