Man sent to jail for burglary, firearm theft

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Residents in rural areas should not have to live in fear: Judge
Camera IconResidents in rural areas should not have to live in fear: Judge

Residents living in rural communities should not have to live in fear that guns are falling into the wrong hands as a result of the drug trade, a district court judge noted when jailing a Kojonup man for the theft of 13 firearms from two Kojonup properties earlier this year.

Judge Julie Wager made the comments when sentencing Shaun Grant Sermon, 26, to two years and four months jail in Perth District Court last Thursday.

The court heard Sermon and brother Matthew Craig Cox forced entry into a remote farming property in Kojonup on Australia Day this year and stole two rifles, a speaker system, a watch, jewellery and two laptops valued at more than $6000 before being found and arrested by police.

Police recovered all of the items except the two rifles at Cox’s house after police executed a search warrant.

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Sermon and a co-offender were also charged with the burglary and theft of 11 pistols and $16,700 cash from two safes at a Kojonup home between January 24-26.

Police recovered two of the pistols the next day when the weapons were found wrapped in a towel in the boot of Sermon’s car. His defence counsel, Richard Hickson, said his client had taken the guns for their value.

Mr Hickson said four of the 11 guns were air pistols and he had committed the crimes to support his family after descending into use of methamphetamine.

Cox’s defence counsel Linda Gibbs said her client had spent 37 days in custody earlier in the year and had since abided by home detention bail conditions.

She said Cox had swapped the two stolen rifles for drugs after he made the “incredibly stupid decision” to start using methamphetamine, but his drug use was not entrenched long-term.

The court heard both men had offended while under court orders and had breached the orders as a result of reoffending.

State prosecutor Hannah Milligan called for immediate imprisonment for both offenders because of the high value of property stolen and the need for specific deterrence. “It’s patently the case in this instance that the firearms were traded for drugs and it is the State’s submission that it’s effectively facilitated the dissemination of lethal weapons into decidedly untrustworthy hands in those circumstances and that does present a very real risk to the community,” she said.

Judge Wager said the offences were committed with motivation for drugs and items to swap for drugs.

“You both had an active involvement in methylamphetamine and, indeed, in the drug culture, at the time,” she said.

“You know that there are people who simply shouldn’t be having access to weapons, who do, and there are people who aren’t thinking straight and have put the lives of others in the community at risk.

“Now, people shouldn’t have to live in fear, but as long as there are guns floating around in the wrong hands, people do.”

After sentencing Sermon to two years and four months jail, Judge Wager opted to suspend Cox’s prison sentence, handing him a 14-month prison term suspended for 18 months because of his efforts in rehabilitation and performance on home detention bail for seven months.

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