Several CCTV cameras were damaged when the school vandals tried to cover their tracks.
Several CCTV cameras were damaged when the school vandals tried to cover their tracks.

School vandal ‘struggling with university studies’

A YOUNG man took his anger out on an Ipswich private school after he was unsuccessful in his university studies, a court heard.

The offender, aided by a youth, had no connection with St Mary’s College when he made unlawful repeat visits to break into student lockers, Ipswich Magistrates Court heard.

The man and his co-offender stole computers and damaged equipment, with the offending captured on CCTV despite attempts to destroy security cameras.

Magistrate Damian Carroll took issue with the defendant, Jake Mitchell, when he tried blaming his young co-offender as leading him astray.

Jake Edward Mitchell, 24, from East Ipswich, pleaded guilty to eight charges of unlawfully trespassing at St Mary’s College at Woodend; two counts of stealing; and five charges of doing wilful damage to property that is part of a school/educational facility.

Police prosecutor Jack Scott said the offences took place between October 12, 2019 and January 2 this year.

He had also trespassed there on Boxing Day.

Damaged property included student lockers and water bubblers, while two laptops valued at $1002 each were stolen.

Mr Scott said Mitchell had no criminal record but his offending went beyond impacting on a single business or individual as it affected the school community with a flow-on effect in consequences for students.

Magistrate Damian Carroll said police facts revealed Mitchell blamed a juvenile co-offender.

“At 24 he should be able to stand up for himself, yet he blames a kid,” Mr Carroll said.

Police sought restitution of $1502, which was half the total bill.

The court heard the school also made a claim for some costs though its insurance, including $2982 to replace the smashed security cameras.

Defence lawyer Kelsea Read said Mitchell had been raised well but in the four months of his offending he had been struggling with the results of his university studies.

Ms Read said Mitchell had written a short letter of apology to the school.

Mr Carroll said it was a very serious example of wanton vandalism.

He noted Mitchell had sought professional help, had insight into his offending and was unlikely to reoffend.

He sentenced Mitchell to an 18-month probation order, with no conviction recorded.