A WONTHAGGI man, who was caught on CCTV cameras paying for building supplies at Bunnings Hardware with counterfeit money, was sentenced to 12 months jail in the Wonthaggi Magistrates’ Court last week.
But the ordeal may not be over for Jay Matcott, 26, who was led away from court in handcuffs by police to start his prison term last Friday.
The court also heard that Matcott had contravened an earlier ruling in the Latrobe Valley County Court when he was picked up by police, in a separate incident on February 13 last year, riding a friend’s motorbike at Archies Creek while his licence was suspended.
According to Magistrate Clive Alsop, the Wonthaggi man will now need to be re-sentenced on the previous offence, noting that in fairness to Matcott, this should be done as quickly as possible in order that he get the benefit of any concurrency available with the sentencing.
It was clear from the outset that Matcott’s freedom was at serious risk, even after police withdrew 11 of the 23 charges listed against him.
And the man’s legal counsel, Shiva Pillai, alluded to an all too familiar refrain in criminal courts these days when he said that his client was battling an ice addiction and cannabis use as contributing factors to his predicament.
Police Prosecutor, Senior Constable Ange Berry, gave an account of the sorry tale.
She told the court that Matcott had passed the counterfeit money at various places around Wonthaggi on July 4 and 5 last year.
The first port of call was KFC in Wonthaggi on July 4 where he purchased food and drink with a fake $50 note.
The next day was his busiest passing the fake bills when he purchased food and drink at the Wonthaggi Club, with a counterfeit $50, before stopping off at Bunnings to ‘purchase’ $110.15 worth of building supplies with two counterfeit $100 notes, pocketing the change in the process.
At Super Cheap Auto in Wonthaggi he used another fake $100 note to purchase further goods.
But it was staff at Wonthaggi Bunnings who alerted authorities to the counterfeit notes and while viewing the store’s CCTV footage later that day, police identified Matcott as their main suspect.
They later executed a search warrant at his house in Wonthaggi where they recovered some of the items from the Bunnings and Super Cheap Auto stores.
In all, police claimed the man passed, or was in possession of $900 worth of counterfeit notes and received around $100 in change.
Although this was the most serious of the matters before the court involving Matcott, he was also appearing to answer other charges relating to riding a motorbike while his licence was suspended and also being in possession of a bag of cannabis seeds, found by police at his home around the same time as the counterfeit money was being passed.
The accused man’s lawyer, Shiva Pillai, said his client was very anxious about going to jail but was keen to see that matter dealt as quickly as possible.
He said the cannabis seeds were an indication of the man’s long-term marijuana use, also noting that he was now using ice “fairly regularly”, a situation that had greatly affected his ability to work and live normally.
“At age 15 he left school and started a building apprenticeship, which to his credit, he has worked at for most of the past 11 years.”
He noted that Matcott had managed to buy a house in that time but, recently, had been unable to work or meet the payments.
“He doesn’t have any issues with alcohol, he doesn’t suffer from any illnesses; mental or otherwise. He instructs me that his main illness is ice and cannabis use,” Mr Pillai said, stressing in his plea to the court that his client had not been charged with creating the counterfeit money.
“The money was given to him by someone else,” he said.
Mr Pillai further explained that most of the materials were purchased to do maintenance work on his own home and that he only passed the fake money because he “was doing it hard”.
Mr Alsop wasted no time in sentencing Matcott to three months jail on the driving offence, a month in custody for the cannabis possession and 12 months for counterfeit money offences.
“The total effective penalty will be 12 months with the other sentences to be served concurrently,” Mr Alsop said, making note of Mr Matcott’s ice addiction as an issue for prison authorities.
The convicted man sat quietly on the front bench of the Wonthaggi Court Room for 10 minutes after the sentence was handed down before being led away in handcuffs to the Wonthaggi Police Station cells.