JADE THEFT: Shane Nicholas leaves Ipswich Magistrates Court.
JADE THEFT: Shane Nicholas leaves Ipswich Magistrates Court. Ross Irby

Dad of seven in court after helping himself to green rocks

A MYSTERY thief stole a $30,000 haul of precious New Zealand jade with an Ipswich-based NBN contractor confessing that he took a few handfuls of the stones home to his "missus".

Police found a few of the missing green stones in an NBN cable trench dug outside a Brisbane property.

Thirty-year-old NBN contract worker and dad of seven, Shane Kevin Nicholas, from Raceview, pleaded guilty to stealing some of the jade between March 14 and March 30 at Chelmer.

Ipswich Magistrates Court was told that Nicholas's guilty plea involved stones valued at $324.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Carl Spargo said the Chelmer victim heard a knock at his door one evening, and was told workers needed access to the yard to run an NBN cable.

There were hessian bags beside the house holding up to 50kg of uncut New Zealand jade, inherited by the family from a relative.

The victim told police the three NBN contractors worked in the dark, using the lights from their mobile phones before leaving.

A week later on March 29, the home owner spoke to a man (Shane Nicholas) who had returned to the work site saying he wanted to test the NBN line.

Ten minutes later the victim saw a trolley tipped over with a bucket of the uncut green stones spilling out. The NBN worker said "my missus likes them for her garden".

Snr Const Spargo said the owner told Nicholas he would report him to police if the missing stones were not returned. Stones valued at $324 were returned by Nicholas.

Snr Const Spargo said the owner told police the stones were valued about $670 a kilo, and estimated that stones worth between $26,000 and $33,000 were missing. A complaint was made and Nicholas was sacked.

Police were told some of the missing stones might be found outside the yard and the trench was dug up. Only a few were found.

When asked by Magistrate David Shepherd what he had to say on the matter, Nicholas apologised.

"I'm sorry for my actions," Nicholas said.

"It was an honest mistake, I'm not a thief."

With no prior convictions, Nicholas was fined $350.

A conviction was not recorded with Mr Shepherd telling Nicholas his integrity was important in his work.