Heartless thief steals cherished aunt's remains
AFTER a blue with his girlfriend Mark Conway pedalled off on her push bike then broke into Bundaberg's Cellblock Backpackers.
He went into the room of manager Wanda Jones and in a heartless act stole the cherished ashes of her beloved aunt and her television.
Bundaberg Magistrates Court was told that Ms Jones's aunt's ashes had not been recovered.
Mark Frederick Conway, 21, appeared in the dock to plead guilty to breaking into the backpackers and stealing on June 24; unlawful use of a motor vehicle; and driving when disqualified.
And in an outburst before the court when relatives were reprimanded for disrespectful noise, Conway said they were "my family" and important to him.
Prosecutor Senior Constable Tina Bland said Conway rode a bicycle into Post Office Lane at 9.45pm then stood on a large plastic bucket trying windows of the backpackers.
He forced a security screen off a window.
Guests saw him walking about and one had greeted him and given him money for food.
Snr Const Bland said Conway broke a glass window to a staff room, and stole a television and a dragon that held ashes of a staff member's relative.
Conway found keys to a guest's Holden Astra, put the stolen items inside and drove away.
The car was found damaged with a blown-out front tyre.
When police later searched his home after viewing CCTV footage, Conway said: "It wasn't me".
Snr Const Bland said Conway was on parole at the time for other offences.
Defence lawyer Mat Maloy said Conway was Rockhampton born, has seven brothers and sisters, and works as a tree lopper.
"He offers no real explanation why he did so many offences in such a short time," Mr Maloy said.
"On the night he had an argument with his partner and to cool his head he jumped on her push bike and went for a ride.
"He instructs it was not his intention to break-in, opportunistic."
Magistrate Belinda Merrin told Conway it was time for him to begin taking responsibility or he may increasingly see his child through the glass of a court dock.
"You stole something that can never be replaced (ashes). I consider it very serious," Ms Merrin said.
"If you ever gain insight ... how you would feel if someone stole the ashes of someone in your family."
Conway was sentenced to 12 months jail for the break-in and lesser terms for the other offences - with a parole eligibility date of July 11 next year.
He was disqualified from driving for 30 months.
"Love yas," Conway called to his relatives as he left the dock in custody.
"Love ya son, " his mother called back.
After Conway was jailed, Wanda Jones spoke to the NewsMail about the theft and loss of her aunt's ashes.
"I cherished her," Ms Jones said.
"She was my mum, my best friend," she said.
"I'm still distraught over it.
"I was absolutely devastated when she passed away.
"We had a very close relationship though my life."
Ms Jones said her aunt had brought her the toy dragon and on her death she had a locket made which she put inside the dragon.
It was marked with her name and also had ashes so it would have been clear what the dragon held.
Her only comment to Conway: "I hope karma bites him in the arse".