Bail for serial burglar


By Cam Lucadou-Wells

An accused serial burglar has allegedly threatened to return and kill a Pakenham resident after being found hiding in the victim’s garage, a court heard.

Jessie Fitzgerald, 32, was granted bail at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on 27 April while accused of a two-day spree of aggravated burglaries in Arlington Avenue and Armidale Drive on 29-30 March.

He also faced charges of thefts and making a threat to kill.

In one of the incidents, Fitzgerald was allegedly discovered hiding in a home garage in Joseph Court.

As he was escorted off the premises by a resident, Fitzgerald said that he’d return to stab the victim and knew where the victim’s family lived, police remand liaison officer Sergeant Chris Marlow told the court.

He made a hand-gun gesture and told the resident that he’d put “one in you”, according to police.

Soon afterwards, Fitzgerald allegedly stole a $100 bike from a front yard in Maria Crescent.

He rode to Racecourse Road where he was OC sprayed and arrested by police. He was reportedly drug affected and not in a fit state to be interviewed, Sgt Marlow said.

Police also claimed that Fitzgerald and a co-accused man ransacked a home on the afternoon of 29 March, stealing a passport as well as $7000 of cash and jewellery.

The accomplice allegedly walked into a bedroom, where a female resident was sleeping. He told her that he was there to work on the internet.

The female, thinking her family were at home, went back to sleep.

The next day, the pair allegedly returned to the home, smashing the window of a vehicle and stealing a workers ID, wallet and credit cards.

In the same period, the pair of men allegedly stole a motorcycle from another home’s garage. The co-accused was arrested by police as he tried to start the motorbike in Armidale Drive, the court heard.

Sgt Marlow told the court that police were “strongly” opposed to bail.

Fitzgerald, with a history of violent offending and bail offences, was an unacceptable risk to witnesses and the public, he said.

The applicant had faced 160 charges in the past, including armed robbery, aggravated burglary, assaulting police, car theft and robbery.

He was at risk of re-offending to fund his “prolific”, multi-substance drug habit.

Defence barrister Greg Thomas told the court that Fitzgerald was not clearly identified in many of the alleged incidents and faced court delays.

Fitzgerald’s last prior conviction was in 2013, resulting in six years’ jail, Mr Thomas said.

Until the latest allegations, the applicant hadn’t offended since released from prison in 2019.

He had been “going well” until he stayed in “problematic” shared accommodation and fell in with other drug users, Mr Thomas said.

Magistrate Suzette Dootjes said she had some reservations that the homeless man had only a guaranteed two nights’ accommodation in a South East motel.

“How can the court be confident that the housing situation will be … better (than while he was allegedly offending)?”

The court was told that WAYSS housing service would provide crisis accommodation, or Fitzgerald would continue living in the motel.

Ms Dootjes said Fitzgerald’s risk of reoffending was reduced by a large number of supports, including mental health care, housing and drug treatment under the CISP program.

Fitzgerald had these supports during the alleged offending. But this time, the extra support of a close relative was a significant factor, Ms Dootjes said.

Fitzgerald was bailed to appear for an interim CISP report at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on 31 May.

The bail conditions included a night curfew, residing at a place decided by CISP, not contacting witnesses, not associating with the co-accused and not to use illicit drugs.