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Wind farm thief convicted

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Caitlin Bewley
(3rd Yr Swinburne Uni)

A 45-year-old man has been described by a Ballarat Magistrate as a “career criminal”.
Todd Cecil Smith entered a plea of guilty to 19 charges that included stealing over $80,000 worth of copper cabling from wind farms near Ballan.
Prosecutor Senior Constable Steve Repac told the court on Tuesday 25 February,
Todd Smith had attended wind farms between November 2019 and January 2020, stealing copper cabling and tools from sites.
Smith had already served 45-days of his pre-sentence detention at the time of the hearing, but was looking at a further sentence, according to Magistrate Letizia Torres.
The prosecution said Smith was spotted by wind farm security in a vehicle near the south wind farm located on Ballan-Mt Egerton Road on November 29.
“Security approached the accused, which resulted in Smith taking off at a fast rate of speed across the paddock, a piece of cable bouncing out of the vehicle during his escape,” he said.
It was alleged by the prosecution, Smith caused $42,300 worth of damage on this occasion.
Police attended on November 29 and examined the roll of copper left at the scene, Smith’s phone records showed he was in the vicinity of the said offending.
Senior Constable Repac told the court Smith was intercepted by police on January 10 along the Egerton-Ballark Road, where he told police he was a “mechanical engineer” and didn’t know where he was going.
“I was on my way to visit a friend, but I got lost,” Smith told police.
SC Repac said police saw bolt cutters, cable cutters and a grinder on the accused’s back seat when he was intercepted.
The next morning on January 11, Smith and an unknown co-accuser allegedly gained access to the north wind farm and stole over $42,000 worth of copper cabling.
The court heard a hydraulic pump and torque converter were also stolen on this occasion, valued at $31,500 collectively.
According to the prosecution, the tools used to cut the cabling were like those found in the back of Smith’s car when he was intercepted the day before.
At 8.17am on January 11, the Smith was intercepted by police at a Bacchus Marsh petrol station and was asked if police could inspect his vehicle.
Senior Constable Repac said police found five large rolls of cable in the boot and a hydraulic pump, torque converter, bolt cutters, cable cutters and grinder on the back seat of Smith’s car.
He was subsequently arrested.
When interviewed by police, Smith admitted that he had spoken to officers the night before, saying he was on his way to see a friend and saw a car on the side of the road that needed assistance.
Smith told police he stopped to help the person and they gave him copper for helping.
Smith’s lawyer told the court his client had spent many years of his life in jail but “has come to the realisation that his life is passing him by”.
“He has become a super veteran by prison standards,” Smith’s lawyer continued. “He has a lengthy criminal history and a lengthy methamphetamine addiction.
“A term of imprisonment is inevitable here, but I ask the court to consider a community corrections order [CCO] with rehabilitation elements.”
Magistrate Letizia Torres said this is extremely serious offending of high valued goods.
“What I see here is a career criminal.”
Smith was sentenced to an aggregate 11-month jail term with 45 days served. Upon release he will participate in a 12-month CCO with conditions that include supervision, drug treatment and other relevant programs that will lead him to not reoffend.