Barrack Pt man avoids jail over home invasion

A Barrack Point man has avoided time behind bars for his role in breaking into a home and threatening the occupants under the belief they had stolen his car and thousands of dollars in work tools.

Wollongong District Court judge Paul Conlon accepted that James Collins had ‘‘completely lost control’’ when he and another man forced their way into the property one morning in December 2012, and demanded the return of the items, unaware that the male victim was not responsible for the earlier theft.

The court heard the incident was the second time Collins had had his car and work tools stolen in a short period of time; the first time having nearly sent him bankrupt.

Judge Conlon acknowledged that Collins had barely recovered financially from the first theft, which had compromised his ability to handle stress well.

Collins told investigating officers that an acquaintance had told him that he’d seen the victim going out at night recently wearing a black balaclava and with a backpack, prompting Collins to believe that the victim was responsible for stealing his car.

Collins and a friend then went to the man’s house and forced their way inside, proceeding to assault him while repeatedly demanding he return the car and the tools.

The man denied any knowledge of the theft.

Collins’s co-offender pulled out a replica gun at one stage during the incident and pointed it at the victim’s head, threatening to kill him if he didn’t return the goods.

However, Judge Conlon accepted that Collins didn’t know his friend had the gun at the time.

The pair eventually left the victim’s house.

Collins was arrested in April last year and charged with aggravated break and enter. He pleaded guilty during a later court appearance.

In handing Collins a 12-month suspended  jail sentence on Friday, Judge Conlon acknowledged the 33-year-old was remorseful for his actions, but had legitimately believed the victim was responsible for stealing his car and tools.

‘‘The court can accept that the offender had completely lost his self control... it was the second occasion within a short period of time that he, a conscientious member of the community, had himself been a victim of crime, and that had had a significant impact on his work,’’ Judge Conlon said.