DPP v Burns and Ors [2019] VCC 1865

Sentence summary: Aggravated burglary

A group of armed men was jailed after storming into a family friend's home in a violent burglary.

The Court heard how the fright of four armed men forcing their way into a Wodonga father's house was made worse when the victim found out the ringleader was someone who had always been welcome in his home.

Eric Chew, 21, had picked the victim's house because he believed it would be an easy target to steal drugs and cash.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated burglary and assault and was sentenced to four and a half years in jail with a non-parole period of two and a half years.

The sentencing judge told the Court of the victim's anger after he realised who had planned the attack.

"He was especially angry at you because you had grown up with his eldest son and were always welcome in his home," the presiding judge said.

"It is clear that you were the leader of this group of home invaders."

Chew and three friends had been using the drug ice in the early hours one morning in August 2019, before scouting out the house and forcing their way inside.

The men, armed with bats and hammers, also struck the 57-year-old victim in the leg when inside the home.

Kayne Phillips, 29, who had followed Chew inside the house waving a hammer, was sentenced to four years, with a non-parole period of two years.

Also involved in the attack was Garry Burns, 23, who had a cricket bat, and Damon Mirkovic, who brandished a hammer while stuck outside, unable to get through the door.

Burns was sentenced to three and a half years, with a non-parole period of 18 months.

Mirkovic was placed on a four-year community corrections order.

All four men pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, while Chew also pleaded guilty to an extra charge of unlawful assault on the victim.

The sentencing judge said the aggravated burglary was serious, fuelled by ice and aggravated by the fact that the four men both drove and walked past the house before making the decision to go ahead.

Additionally, each of the offenders had a substantial amount of prior convictions.

When considering the sentence, the presiding judge noted the relatively youthful ages of each offender and their difficult childhoods, each marred by alcohol, drugs and violence.

"In each of your cases, any prospects of rehabilitation that you may have is entirely dependent upon you remaining drug-free and obtaining employment," the judge said.

"Subject to this qualification, I can only regard your prospects for rehabilitation as being guarded in respect of each of you."

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Page last updated: 8 December 2020