Shepparton man jailed for stealing firearms from cousin’s farm

By Liz Mellino

A Shepparton man who stole firearms and other property worth $6500 from his cousin's farm has been jailed for 18 months.

Craig Ramage, 48, was sentenced on Wednesday, May 20 in Melbourne's County Court for the offending, which occurred at his cousin's Caniambo farm last year.

Judge Sarah Dawes described the offending, in particular the theft of firearms, as "particularly serious", noting that the burglary was planned and the accused attempted to avoid detection.

The incident occurred on May 29 last year when Ramage and a co-accused attended the farm when the owner was not home in a black Nissan Navara with the registration plates removed.

The pair gained access to the property by using bolt cutters to cut the chain on the rear door of the house and the garage.

Ramage and the co-accused stole $6500 worth of items from the property, including assorted tools, ammunition, a hunting camera and motorbike.

While inside the home the pair also forced open a gun safe which was secured to a wall, taking a shot gun and rifle before leaving the premises.

Police searched Ramage's property on May 31 where they located the firearms, ammunition and other stolen items.

He was arrested and interviewed by police where he answered ‘no comment’ to most of the questions, however he identified himself and the co-accused when shown CCTV photos from the property.

“You admitted the stolen property should not have been at your house ... you stated you should not have done it,” Judge Dawes said in her sentencing.

“It must have been a frustrating and confronting experience for the victim to discover his premises had been ransacked.”

Ramage was bailed on August 6 last year after spending 67 days on remand.

At the time of the offending Ramage was a prohibited person on a community corrections order.

When sentencing Judge Dawes said she took into account Ramage's early plea of guilty, which he gave on September 24 last year, which she said confirmed his responsibility for his actions and showed remorse.

Judge Dawes addressed the accused's "extensive history" with cannabis and methylamphetamine, acknowledging that the accused was drug-affected at the time of the offending.

She also noted he consumed "large amounts of alcohol", however he managed to reduce this amount in the last few years.

When sentencing, Judge Dawes said she also took into account the accused's unstable mental health, which involved levels of depression, anxiety and stress.

Judge Dawes described the accused as having a "relevant" criminal history dating back to 1991 with convictions for burglary, theft and dishonesty matters.

“You were recently convicted and placed on a 24-month community corrections order on October 19, 2018 for offences including burglary, theft and theft of a motor vehicle,” she said.

“This order provided you with the opportunity to undergo rehab while remaining in the community ... you did not take advantage of the supports and you relapsed into drug use and committed these offences approximately seven months after the order commenced."

Given his history, Judge Dawes said she had no confidence that Ramage would comply with another community corrections order, saying she believed prison was the only appropriate option.

Ramage pleaded guilty to burglary, theft, theft of a firearm and being a prohibited person in possession of firearms.

He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 10 months.

He has already served 67 days in pre-sentence detention.