Alcohol thieves found by CCTV

TWO men with “appalling criminal histories” have hugged each other in the docks as a judge handed down their sentences.

Christopher James Blackburn, 25, and James Eugene Neal, 40, both of Bundaberg, faced Bundaberg District Court on three charges of stealing and two charges of stealing respectively.

The court heard the co-offenders entered the First Choice Liquor Store on Quay Street at 7pm on August 29, 2009.

Staff witnessed the men acting suspiciously and Crown Prosecutor Greg Cummings said CCTV revealed what the men had done while in the store.

He said Blackburn handed Neal a 700ml bottle of Smirnoff Red Vodka, which he then concealed in his pants.

The pair went to the counter and paid for a pack of alcopops before leaving. On the same night, they returned to the store to exchange the alcopops.

While Neal attempted to exchange the drinks, Blackburn went to the back of the store and concealed a bottle of gin down his pants.

Both men pleaded guilty to all the charges against them.

Mr Cummings told the court another of Blackburn's stealing charges occurred on May 16, 2009.

Blackburn took a socket set worth $186.90 from Bunnings Warehouse Bundaberg and concealed it down his pants.

Staff witnessed the defendant acting suspiciously in the tool section and CCTV footage recorded the crime.

The prosecutor asked for a three month jail term for the Bunnings offence and six months for the double stealing offences.

He suggested Neal, who had an 18 month suspended sentence, should not have the entire sentence activated.

Defence barrister Peter Richards told the court both clients had “unenviable drug histories”.

Judge Keith Dodds extended Neal's suspended sentence for a further six months and sentenced Blackburn to three months for the socket stealing and six months for the remaining offences, to be served cumulatively with immediate parole.

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