Vagrant finds shelter in jail

“HOMELESS and hungry” were two reasons why David O’Meara broke in and stole from a takeaway shop and a community organisation late last year, his lawyer Chris Anderson said.

O’Meara, 22, appeared in the court dock yesterday after spending 17 days in pre-sentence custody for eight offences, the first dating back to September 11 when he broke into a takeaway shop on Tozer Street.

The court heard O’Meara used a wooden pole to smash a window to get in and he stole $20 from two charity tins, several chocolate bars and two cartons of flavoured milk. His blood found at the scene led detectives straight to him.

Then on October 2, O’Meara used a rock to smash a window and gain entry into the Mary Valley Heritage Railway shop. He took a basket of lollies before fleeing when the security alarm was activated however, a fingerprint left at the entry point matched his.

One month later on November 8, O’Meara was found asleep in an empty residence on O’Connell Street after police had warned him a number of times not to stay there. He was charged with trespassing and when officers searched him they found on him a cone-piece used for smoking cannabis and he was charged with possession of a utensil for drug use.

He was given bail for all charges with the condition he report to the police station every day however, on February 15, O’Meara was arrested on a warrant for failing to report as per his bail conditions. While in custody at the Gympie police station he started ripping the rubber seal off the cell door and was charged with wilful damage. He told officers he was bored and didn’t care anymore.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said O’Meara being hungry and homeless was not a good enough excuse.

“He may have been hungry but instead of getting help he chose to break in and steal chocolates and lollies,” she said.

Snr Const Manns said the breaches of bail were also serious offences because he was given the opportunity to remain in the community and failed to comply.

“He thumbs his nose at the law...he was given the order to report every day so he wouldn’t forget,” she said.

In O’Meara’s defence, Mr Anderson said his client had nowhere to live when he was committing the offences and did so because he was hungry and homeless.

“Two weeks in custody,” Magistrate Maxine Baldwin mused. “Probably the best life you’ve had — three meals and a bed.”

Mrs Baldwin said she had to structure the penalty so O’Meara did not end up in jail for longer than he should and sentenced him to one month in prison for seven of the offences with 17 days pre-sentence custody taken into account. For the possession charge O’Meara was convicted but not further punished. He will be eligible for release on parole on March 15.

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