Ex-council worker used old keys to go on stealing spree
AN EX-COUNCIL employee broke into the Springsure water treatment plant and stole several items from the premises.
Jesse Kyle Neill, 34, worked for Central Highlands Regional Council for about six years before his dismissal in 2018, Police Prosecutor Sergeant Paul Cramp told Emerald Magistrates Court.
On November 13, Neill used a set of keys to unlock the gate of the treatment plant, walked through the yard, entered the main building and made his way to a storage shed where he took a leaf blower, Honda brush cutter, a reel of line trimmer cord and two garden hoses.
The court today heard that Neill left the premises with possession of the council property.
On November 15, police attended Neill’s address with a search warrant, and when questioned, he was corporative and took police to the garage where they found all items from the water treatment plant, Sgt Cramp told the court.
Neill told police he found a set of keys, recognised them as council keys and used it as an opportunistic matter.
The court heard that during the search of the garage, police also located several Makita power tools in a canvas bag that were suspected of being stolen from council as part of a previous matter including a cordless drill, battery charger, two branded cordless batteries and a tool bag.
Police seized the items.
Council employees attended the Springsure police station on November 19 and identified the Makita tools as those that were stolen.
Duty lawyer Kasey Wilson said Neill, a father of four young children, was disgusted with his actions and couldn’t believe what he’d done.
“He’s extremely remorseful and very embarrassed,” she said.
Magistrate Robert Walker said breaking and entering into the property, and stealing from the premises was among the most serious of the property charges and carried a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
He said the situation was “a little unusual” considering Neill previously worked for the victim.
Mr Walker considered Neill’s lack of criminal history and the fact that all the items were returned undamaged.
Neill pleaded guilty to three charges on Tuesday, February 18 and was fined $1500. His conviction was not recorded.