By Danielle Kutchel
A “lack of sophistication” characterised an almost year-long crime spree that spread from Pakenham to Bairnsdale, Dandenong Magistrates Court has heard.
Dubbed ‘the breadstick bandit’ by Star News Group after he broke into the newspaper’s headquarters and was captured on CCTV taking a breadstick from the dumpster, Corey Andrews appeared in court over a number of charges relating to breaking and entering at multiple addresses over several months.
Prosecutors told the court they believe the 28-year-old had been residing in Pakenham for the past month.
The accused was captured on CCTV breaking into the Star News Group tearoom on Sunday 2 September 2018, where he attempted unsuccessfully to force entry to the electricity box.
After taking a breadstick from the dumpster and eating half, he left the premises.
Prosecutors alleged the accused then broke into a number of units in Pakenham over 3 and 4 September.
The houses were ransacked and syringes were left in several rooms.
A forensic analysis of the syringes found DNA that matched that of the accused.
The court heard the accused also broke into McGregor Gardens Aged Care on Monday 3 September 2018, entering the facility via an unlocked door.
The accused helped himself to a drink from the staff fridge and entered the room of a resident.
Alerted by an alarm, staff confronted the man and asked him to exit the building, the court heard.
A gold watch worth $100 was taken from the premises.
On Sunday 3 March 2019, the accused allegedly entered a building on Main Street, Bairnsdale, causing significant damage to a door and stealing a Samsung phone and tablet.
The court heard the accused returned to McGregor Gardens Aged Care in March this year, where he was found asleep on a bed next to a resident.
He was later seen forcing his way into rooms in the facility, but no property was stolen, prosecutors said.
The pattern continued with the accused returning to Star News Group on Sunday 24 and Tuesday 26 March, forcing open a door and activating the alarm.
Later that same day, a resident of a nearby house found the accused standing in her sunroom. The accused reportedly apologised to her before leaving without stealing any property.
On Thursday 27 June 2019, the accused broke into Pakenham Baptist Church at about 6.30pm but was chased out the front doors by a witness.
Throughout June and July, the accused committed similar offences, breaking into units, Pakenham Uniting Church, Pakenham Hills Primary School and even Ryan Road Childcare, the court heard. An envelope containing $600 cash was stolen from the childcare centre.
At many of the crime scenes, the accused left articles containing his DNA, including items of clothing and used syringes.
On 16 March 2018, the accused was observed by off duty police and PTV authorised officers on the last carriage of a VLine train to Traralgon drinking alcohol. He was asked to dispose of it and produce a valid ticket by the conductor. The accused was unable to produce a valid ticket and continued to drink and even smoke a cigarette in the carriage.
He was removed from the train at Dandenong and resisted arrest, making violent threats to police and striking a PSO.
Andrews’ lawyer told the court that Andrews was taking responsibility for his crimes and was ashamed of what he did, but doesn’t recall some of them.
The lawyer said Andrews had acknowledged his extreme drug use during the period of offending, and had a stint in rehab last year, but was early exited from the program.
He had indicated he wanted to return to residential rehab.
Magistrate Jack Vandersteen said the community’s protection needed to be considered in sentencing.
Mr Vandersteen added there was a “lack of sophistication” in the accused’s offending.
For his burglaries, thefts, and aggravated burglaries, Andrews was sentenced to two years and four months and for two charges of assaulting an emergency worker on duty, two months with the sentences to be served concurrently.