Bullion burglary fail lands Toowoomba man in jail

A HAPLESS burglar who couldn't believe his eyes when he forced open a home safe to find a $250,000 booty was soon identified by his DNA left at the scene.

Gene Douglas Roeton and a couple of associates had broken into the Gatton home on July 15 last year while the 78-year-old home owner was away.

She returned the next day to find her home ransacked and the safe in her bedroom forced open and its contents missing, Toowoomba District Court heard.

The contents included 130oz of gold bullion, thousands of dollars in old $100 bank notes, English pound notes and jewellery including a gold Rolex watch which Roeton was found wearing when police called at his home days later.

The 22-year-old's DNA had been found on a pocket knife and crowbar which had been used to open the safe and which were left beside the safe when the burglars fled the scene with the booty.

With an eight-page criminal history, police already had Roeton's DNA on file.

Police also charged Roeton's girlfriend when she tried to exchange some of the $100 bank notes for modern currency at a bank and a mate of Roeton's had been found with three gold bars at his home weeks after the burglary.

Of the $250,000 worth of gold bars and jewellery stolen, 100oz of gold and most of the jewellery remained outstanding, prosecutor Grace Ollason told the court.

The victim could not be contacted by the Crown prior to Roeton's sentence so it was not known if she was insured against the theft, Ms Ollason said.

Roeton, who had been subject to a 12-month suspended jail sentence and a probation order at the time of the burglary, pleaded guilty to all charges.

His barrister David Jones told the court it was clear his client had not acted alone and that he was not the mastermind of the burglary which had been "anything but a professional job".

Mr Jones said his client "did not fit the mould" of the average criminal and put his client's offending down to long term use of marijuana and methylamphetamine.

Roeton's girlfiend and his friend had each pleaded guilty to a charge of receiving tainted property and had been sentenced to 12 months probation and a wholly suspended 12-month jail term respectively, the court heard.

Judge Greg Koppenol said he accepted the burglary wasn't the most well planned crime he had encountered.

"It's not a sophisticated or professional break, enter and steal," His Honour said.

Judge Koppenol also noted this was the 15th time that the now 22-year-old had appeared before a criminal court to plead guilty to offences.

Declaring the 300 days Roeton had spent in pre-sentence custody as time already served under the term, Judge Koppenol sentenced him to five years in jail but ordered he be eligible to apply for release on parole as of May 20 next year after having served a total 20 months.



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