Car thief’s lawyer blames drugs for ‘appalling’ history
A CAR thief shunted a Ford Falcon into the wall of the garage when confronted by the car's owner as he fled.
As thief Ajay Hughes reversed down the drive and sped away from the scene, he fishtailed the stolen green Ford down the road and the noise brought residents out onto the Laidley street.
One of the bystanders threw a rock that smashed the rear windscreen, Ipswich Magistrates Court heard on Friday.
Ajay Daniel Hughes, 31, a dad of four from Laidley, appeared from jail via video-link, pleading guilty to nearly 40 charges while his concerned mother watched on in the courtroom.
His crimes included entering the premises of the Exchange Hotel and stealing $1500 on June 5, 2019; entering a dwelling on Durack Place to steal on August 9, 2019; car theft on August 9; evading police on October 11, 2019; dangerous conduct with a weapon (homemade gun) on July 29, 2020; unlawful possession of ammunition (. 22 calibre bullets); receiving tainted property (mobile phone card); three counts of drug possession; two charges of driving when unlicensed; 10 counts of stealing; and unlawfully going onto rail tracks.
Prosecutor Sergeant Molinaro said the owner of the stolen Ford ran into the garage when he heard the engine start and confronted the stranger in the driver's seat.
Sgt Molinaro said Hughes slammed the vehicle into drive and the Ford Falcon went forward into the garage wall.
He then slammed it into reverse and backed down the driveway onto the street as the owner gave chase.
As the Ford fishtailed down Durack Street a witness threw a rock that smashed its rear window.
Hughes collided with a fence but continued his erratic driving.
Police later found the crashed Ford on its side after running off the road and into trees along the Laidley-Plainland Road.
In a separate incident, Sgt Molinaro said police were called to a Laidley house in July last year after Hughes pointed a homemade firearm at another male.
"He pointed it at the male's chest who, fearing he was about to be killed, fell to the ground," Sgt Molinaro said.
"It (the pistol) was later found dumped on the outskirts of Laidley."
Defence lawyer Kelsea Read said Hughes was born in Warwick and grew up in the Lockyer Valley where he began using illicit drugs.
She said the death of two people close to him caused his struggle with drugs to worsen.
After being released from jail he later relapsed and was removed from a residential drug program.
Ms Read conceded his offending had been "appalling and excessive".
With 375 days already spent in jail, Ms Read sought his immediate release on parole.
Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said the offences occurred between June and October 2019.
She said the car theft was brazen and when a witness tried to stop him, Hughes yelled: "I'm part of the Bandido's".
She said many of his stealing offences were done at stores in the Riverlink complex including Specsavers, Rebel, City Beach, Pet Barn, and the Reject Shop.
Hughes breached bail conditions by breaking his residential curfew.
She said he'd also stolen goods from a Mitre 10 store, a pet store, and was captured on security cameras inside the Exchange Hotel stealing $1500 from a safe.
In a burglary at Laidley, Ms Sturgess said he stole $700 worth of cutlery, two statues valued at $400, and a guitar.
Ms Sturgess said that after crashing in the stolen Ford the police dog squad and Polair were used to try and locate him.
"You also tried to headbutt a police officer but fortunately missed," she said.
She noted his growing criminal history included burglary, entering dwellings, assault, drug offences and car stealing.
Hughes was sentenced to a two-year jail order and to lesser concurrent jail terms. With 375 days already spent in custody he was granted immediate parole.
He was ordered to pay nearly $3000 in restitution.