News

Hervey Bay fishing guide steals rods, found with resort safe

A FISHING guide who stole supplies from a fishing and camping store to further his business and was one of a trio of thieves who sent a Hervey Bay resort into lockdown, has been jailed.

Chad John Runnalls pleaded guilty in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court to receiving tainted property, wilful damage and unauthorised dealing with shop goods.

The court heard Runnalls was found with a safe and master key that had been stolen from the Great Sandy Straits Marina Resort in January, causing every lock in the complex to be replaced.

Along with the cost of employing 24-hour security guards to patrol the grounds while the locks were changed, the total damage bill was more than $66,000.

He had also stolen six fishing rods from the camping store and other items from an auto store.

It was noted in court that Runnalls had a long criminal history and had previously served time in jail for aggravated burglary.

Defence lawyer Fiona Terrell said her client had an unfortunate childhood but had moved to Hervey Bay to put his offending behind him.

She said Runnalls had not committed an offence since 2012 but that in the case of the shoplifting offence, he had seen a back door open and seized the opportunity.

She also said Runnalls was in remission for liver cancer and required ongoing treatment.

Describing his recent stint in the Maryborough jail as "two of the hardest months I have ever had to do", an emotional Runnalls told the court he had never been a drinker or drug user.

He said he was disappointed in himself and insisted he was making progress with his life but at the time of the offending had received several bills at once.

"I guess I just got really swamped," Runnalls said

"It felt like I was drowning."

Runnalls pleaded for a chance to get his business up and running but Magistrate Graeme Tatnell found the offending, particularly the safe heist, was too serious to avoid jail.

Mr Tatnell noted a juvenile had been involved but as the adult offender, Runnalls should "carry the brunt" of the punishment.

While the prosecution called for Runnalls to cover half of the costs $33,000 incurred by the resort, Mr Tatnell found the value was so high, it should be dealt with in a civil case.

Instead Runnalls was ordered to pay $2000 restitution for the damage to the safe and $1800 to the camping store for the stolen fishing rods.

Runnalls was sentenced to 12 months' jail with a parole release date of June 27.

Topics:  fishing guide, hervey bay, hervey bay magistrates court, jail, theft




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