Break-in impact

October 11, 2017

An elderly Shepparton man read his victim impact statement to Shepparton Magistrates' Court yesterday at the hearing of a man charged with breaking in and stealing from his home.

A Shepparton pensioner has described how a home break-in transformed his peaceful life into one of fear and anxiety.

Harry Nichols, 86, spoke in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday about how an apparently random break-in had changed the lives of himself and his wife, as the alleged culprit listened on.

In what is a rarity for the court, he decided to come in person to read out his victim impact statement and describe to the alleged criminal the effects of the break-in.

His property was one of several homes and businesses allegedly broken in to by Jessie Rogers, 28, over just a few weeks.

Mr Rogers allegedly broke into Mr Nichols’ Shepparton home and stole a number of valuables and items of sentimental value.

The accused allegedly returned to the home a number of hours after the original break-in to steal a safe which contained more valuables.

Although the financial cost of the break-in was large, Mr Nichols said the greater cost was the stress and anxiety he and his wife now experienced.

‘‘Because the burglary is on my mind all the time, sleep does not come easily,’’ Mr Nichols said.

‘‘My most unpleasant feeling is trying to console my wife of 60 years, who is upset and tearful at losing sentimental items handed down to her from her great-grandmother.’’

He had felt suspicious and anxious since the break-in, but the greatest toll was felt by his wife, Heather, who was twice taken to the emergency department with severe chest pains.

After initial fears the pain could have been from her heart, medical officials said it was brought on by anxiety.

Mr Rogers, who has been in custody since his arrest in July, listened to Mr Nichols via videolink.

He faces 39 charges, including burglary, theft and weapons offences.

Police prosecutor, Leading Senior Constable Kim Thomson, said the accused allegedly broke into 14 homes and businesses over a short period in June and July.

The break-ins, which were allegedly committed with an accomplice, sometimes netted cash and valuables worth several thousand dollars.

At one break-in at a bottle shop in Shepparton, Mr Rogers allegedly left the scene with a wheelie bin filled with more than $6000 worth of cigarettes and alcohol.

Lawyer for the accused Luke Slater said his client had spent nine of the past 10 years behind bars.

‘‘In this occasion, he was released in June and it appears that the offending commenced almost immediately,’’ Mr Slater said.

‘‘It is certainly a significant drug addiction that fuels much of his criminal activity.’’

After Mr Nichols asked if it was possible their goods would ever be recovered, Magistrate Stella Stuthridge said that it was unlikely.

‘‘He is unlikely to remember what he has done because of his drug addiction,’’ the magistrate said.

The case was adjourned to Tuesday.

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