A TRUCK driver who helped himself to almost $130,000 worth of goods he was supposed to deliver has been jailed for five years.
Stephen George Russell, 53, was contracted as a truck driver to deliver communications goods from Brightstar Logistics in Greenacre to Tamworth.
Instead, a Tamworth court heard, he pinched iPhones, Blackberries, mobile phones, iPads and other communications devices from the loads during those trips.
Stephen Russell’s son, Iain Stanley Russell, was also sentenced to at least nine months behind bars for his part in the trafficking after he was convicted of one count of disposing of property worth more than $5000.
The court was told that on November 5 last year Stephen Russell stole goods worth $190, but that was just the start of the stealing spree.
Two days later almost $2000 worth of mobile phones were taken before things escalated.
Within 10 days he’d stolen boxes of mobile phones worth $7140.
The driving shifts continued and so too did the thefts, with $11,200 worth of goods taken in the early hours of November 22 and $18,820 worth of mobile phones on November 28.
The alarm was raised by staff when goods “went missing” prior to arriving at the Tamworth depot.
But as Russell got behind the wheel for his shift, he also delved into the cargo, pinching more than $40,000 worth of communications devices on trips on November 14 and 23.
A police investigation targeted Russell as a suspect.
Russell was nearing the end of one trip when he was stopped near the Tamworth equine centre and quizzed by police on the morning of December 10.
Officers reported the security tags on the truck curtains as well as the rear door tag had been removed.
What he thought was just a routine traffic stop was all part of a sequence of events planned by police to catch Russell in the act.
Russell and his son, who was in the cabin of the truck that morning, were followed by police to a home in South Tamworth.
Iain Russell was videotaped carrying boxes from the truck into the home.
Not long after, police raided the Oak St house where a number of items suspected of being stolen were discovered in the home as well as in a car.
Russell and his son Iain were later charged with a string of offences with Russell accused of accessing the cargo area of the truck and removing electronic devices to various values on numerous occasions.
His son Iain was charged in connection with disposing of the stolen goods.
Iain Russell has been sentenced to 12 months in prison but will be eligible for parole in nine months.
Stephen Russell pleaded guilty to the 13 offences in April, two months after the matter first came to court.
Investigations by police revealed 201 electronic devices bearing unique registration numbers had been pinched during the trafficking crimes, but only 33 had been recovered.
The mobile phones had been onsold or gifted by the accused men.
Some were purchased randomly off the street or at licensed premises, through the internet on sites like Facebook and Gumtree and through word of mouth.
The court was told a number of people in possession of the stolen mobiles had been in contact with investigating police.
StarTrack Express told police the company would be burdened with the expenses from the stolen freight because it was the contracted carrier.
The company sought compensation of $128,429.64 for the stolen goods.
Magistrate Roger Prowse ordered Stephen Russell to pay compensation and sentenced him to two years’ jail to commence in January for larceny worth more than $15,000.
He was convicted of a further count of the same offence to commence in 2016, with an eight-month sentence slated to start in January, 2018 for another count of larceny.
The other offences were taken into account during the sentencing.
Stephen Russell will be eligible for release in September, 2018.