Jail for thefts and cheating

A MACKAY man cheated, lied and stole his way to obtaining more than $60,000 in cash and property.

An escalating drug habit drove Brian Leslie John Smith to target "vulnerable members" of the community and steal their property in his attempt to get cash.

Smith, 35, pleaded guilty to committing 59 dishonesty offences between September 2012 and January 2013, including breaking into aged care facilities and schools to steal cash and credit cards for personal use and stealing property and exchanging it for cash, the Mackay Magistrates Court heard. The amount stolen totalled $28,175.25.

Magistrate Damien Dwyer said Smith's offending behaviour was "disgraceful".

"You are not a man of good character," Mr Dwyer said. "You have targeted your victims carefully."

Smith used the stolen credit cards on numerous occasions for alcohol, food, fuel and jewellery.

The offending spree began less than 12 months after Smith cheated the Commonwealth out of more than $32,000.

Commonwealth prosecutor Aimee Knott said between November 30, 2008 and October 19, 2011 Smith was overpaid $32,014.40 in Newstart allowance.

During that time Smith worked for seven different employers and earned $188,180.86. However, he declared that he was earning significantly less, Ms Knott said. Smith only declared $3635.32 to Centrelink.

His dishonesty was revealed through a tip-off to Centrelink, which contacted Smith via phone and letters, but he persisted in making false Newstart claims.

Smith also pleaded guilty to that charge. Ms Knott said he had repaid $3577.99, leaving $28,436.41 outstanding.

"Drugs have taken control of this young man's life ... taken it in a terrible direction," defence lawyer Marty Doyle, of ATSI Legal Services, said.

"You'll see from his history he's not a career criminal."

Smith has been in custody since February 1 this year after he handed himself in to police at Sarina.

"He did realise it was time to stop ... time to face the music ... time to stop the ridiculousness," Mr Doyle said.

Mr Dwyer said Smith was "predicated also by greed" as much as drugs to commit the offences. "If (you) want to target vulnerable people, the courts will act."

Smith was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for the Commonwealth crime, to serve four months before being released on a $3000 good behaviour bond for four years.

Mr Dwyer further sentenced Smith to 15 months imprisonment. The terms will be cumulative and Smith will be released on parole on October 31.

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