Shepparton men sentenced over Caniambo home burglary

By Shepparton News

The family of a Shepparton man charged over a burglary at a Caniambo home wept in court on Thursday as he was handed his jail sentence.

Mark Threlfall, 60, was sentenced to six months’ jail and placed on a 12-month community corrections order over the theft from a rural property in Thorns Rd last year.

Threlfall and Shepparton's John Miller, 50, faced Shepparton's County Court on Thursday for sentencing, with Miller jailed for 15 months with a non-parole period of nine months over the incident.

When sentencing, Judge Mark Taft described the offending as "opportunistic", saying he accepted the accused did not attend the property with the intention of entering the home.

“Despite my initial skepticism I do accept your explanations as to how you came to be in the area at night time, discovered the farm house and entered it to steal various items,” he said.

The court previously heard the accused gained entry to the property about 11 pm on March 3, loading more than a dozen items from the home into a garden trolley.

The accused also located a crowbar which they used to force a gun safe, containing three firearms, from a wall inside the home.

Not long after dumping the items inside a concrete drain pipe down the road from the property, the accused were arrested by police, interviewed and their properties searched.

The court heard during his record of interview Miller stated he was looking for bottles with his friend on the night of the burglary and that they came across what they believed was an abandoned farm house.

In sentencing Judge Taft acknowledged the gun safe was never opened, and neither of the accused saw how many guns were inside.

Judge Taft referred to a victim impact statement written by the owner of the Caniambo home, which said she was "constantly concerned" about her safety and that of her family.

“She wonders what might have happened if the family were in the house when you entered it . . . she is concerned about her safety and the security of the farm,” Judge Taft said.

Judge Taft acknowledged Miller had a relevant criminal record, saying that despite this he managed to maintain "excellent employment history" working six days a week.

In his sentencing remarks Judge Taft said he recognised a term of imprisonment would be "burdensome" on Threlfall and his family due to his wife being unwell, however he acknowledged the community's shared concerns around firearms.

“The community has a great concern about firearms being stolen and finding their way into the hands of other people . . . we live in a society in which firearms are restricted and that is for the public good,” he said.

“The decision to enter a stranger's home and steal firearms and other objects is objectively serious offending.”

The accused had each previously pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary, one charge of theft and one charge of theft of a firearm, while Threlfall also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a general category unlicensed handgun.