ONE of the region’s leading figures in waterski racing and a high-profile Echuca identity in the automotive repair/spray painting industry appeared in Shepparton Magistrates Court today charged with the theft of more than $700,000 worth of wake boats, cars and caravans.
Brett Spits, who owns and races Arkham Asylum and recently acquired Psycho Clowns 99, and lives in Wharparilla Drive, was charged with two counts of theft of boat, two counts of theft of boat trailer, two counts of bringing stolen goods into Victoria, two counts of dealing with proceeds of crime and handling stolen goods.
Lincoln Mifsud, 44, who owns LWM Panels in Bilkey Crt, Echuca, was charged with four counts of handling stolen goods and dealing with proceeds of crime.
Detectives running the case have also indicated they are keeping an open mind in relation to the series of thefts over the length of the Murray River, with the investigation ongoing.
In today's filing hearing, the men, who are on bail, were ordered to appear at the same court for a committal mention on July 28.
The court heard Spits, 37, would be represented by Melbourne lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson.
Zarah Garde-Wilson will represent Spits. Image: AAP.
Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Kim Thomson applied for Spits’ DNA sample to compare to several seized items.
Dressed in a black t-shirt, black pants and black runners, Spits listened to the testimony of Detective Sergeant Marcus Boyd of Cobram criminal investigation unit before agreeing to give a sample.
Det. Sgt Boyd said search warrants were executed at Spits’ property at Wharparilla Drive and Mifsud's Bilkey Crt home and leased storage shed in Matong Rd on Friday morning.
Police found a Malibu Wakesetter stolen from Bundalong in Bilkey Court and another three similar boats, one owned by Supercar champion Mark Winterbottom, at the Matong Rd shed.
“CCTV footage revealed Mifsud and the accused (Spits) arrived at the shed in two stolen vehicles - a Range Rover and Mercedes,” Det. Sgt Boyd said.
He said police wanted DNA samples to compare forensically with the boats and anchoring rope found at Matong Rd.
Magistrate Fran Medina granted the DNA procedure, which police did after the court hearing.
Mifsud, looking unkempt in an unironed green shirt, denim shorts and thongs, remained silent in court as solicitor Nicholas Rolfe acted on his behalf.
The men were arrested on Friday morning following an investigation into a $700,000 heist of boats and vehicles.
“The investigation stems from the Cobram CIU and as our investigation gained momentum, we brought in other police from here and interstate,” Det. Sgt Boyd said.
Detectives from Cobram, Wangaratta and Echuca criminal investigation units seized four Malibu boats, two Range Rovers, a Mercedes, Jayco Caravan, two boats and an amount of cash and cocaine.
A 29-year-old Echuca woman was issued a caution notice for drug-related offences.
Winterbottom's 2018 Malibu Wakesetter, worth more than $130,000, was stolen from Bundalong between 10am and 1pm last Tuesday.
Information poured in after Winterbottom issued an appeal for help through Facebook, stating the boat had been seen towed by a dual cab utility on the Numurkah-Katamatite Rd towards Echuca.