Shepparton men to be sentenced over Caniambo burglary

By Liz Mellino

Two Shepparton men could face jail after stealing more than a dozen items, including a gun safe, from a home in Caniambo.

John Miller, 50, and Mark Threlfall, 60, faced Shepparton's County Court on Monday charged over the burglary at the rural property in March last year.

The accused each 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.

Prosecutor Kathryn Hamill told the court Miller and Threlfall attended the rural property in Thorns Rd, Caniambo about 11 pm on March 3 last year.

The court heard the house had four operating wireless CCTV cameras installed around the outside, of which the accused located two and removed them, placing them inside a backpack.

“They then located an unlocked window and climbed into the house,” Ms Hamill said.

Once inside Miller and Threlfall loaded more than a dozen items from the home, including a fishing rod, tackle box, two pieces of art, a laser tag gun and a bicycle, into a garden trolley they found at the property.

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

The accused then left the address just after 1 am towing the trolley, before dumping the items in a large concrete drainpipe down the road from the property.

The court heard the accused men were intercepted by police 500 m further down the road, where Miller admitted to leaving the stolen items in a drainpipe.

Police searched the accused men's properties the following day. They located two handguns, a homemade firearm and assorted ammunition at Threlfall's home and a 12 gauge side by side shotgun and firearm stock with mechanism at Miller's property.

The accused were interviewed at Shepparton Police Station where 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.

Miller's defence counsel Cecily Hollingworth described her client's work history as "phenomenal" telling the court he had lead a fairly productive life working full-time and looking after his son who had Asperger's syndrome.

Ms Hollingworth said her client insisted he and Threlfall had gone out on the day of the burglary to collect glassware and were in the area searching the river beds when they came across the house they believed was unoccupied.

She said Miller assumed there were guns in the safe based on its weight however she said he never saw any firearms as the safe was never opened.

Ms Hollingworth conceded her client had relevant priors, including four convictions for burglary along with having served four years in jail for a glassing incident in 2004.

She said Miller showed remorse, making immediate admissions to police and taking them to the location of the stolen goods.

Threlfall's defence counsel Andrew Sim said the circumstances of the offending did not fall within the serious category, telling the court his client did not attend the property with the intention of entering the dwelling.

Mr Sim said his client was not aware of what was inside the gun safe, telling the court Threlfall "assumed" there was at least one firearm as he heard movement inside the safe.

The court heard Threlfall had been exposed to firearms from a very early age, suffering a significant accidental firearm injury when he was nine years old, leaving him at serious risk of losing one of his legs.

Mr Sim told the court Threlfall's wife had mild Parksinon's disease which would make any sentence of imprisonment "more burdensome" on the couple.

Mr Sim said he believed his client had very good prospects of rehabilitation, saying he continued to run his own business and was "genuinely remorseful" for his offending.

The accused were remanded in custody and are set to be sentenced tomorrow.


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