As distraught keepers were appealing for information into the theft of three rare monkeys from a Helensburgh wildlife park, Campbelltown 23-year-old Jackson George’s phone pinged with a message.
“Ay check out my monkey,” it read. “Wat ya reckon they worth?”
Jackson and his older brother Jesse Michael George, 26, fronted Campbelltown Local Court on Monday, admitting their part in the race-against-the-clock mystery that has angered and disturbed thousands of area animal lovers.
The court considered a series of text messages between Jackson and another man, who the Mercury has opted not to name while the police investigation is ongoing.
During the exchange Jackson, an exotic animal enthusiast with a penchant for snakes and lizards, offers to buy the pictured monkey, unfazed when the seller reveals he “paid nothing” for the creature and had “got it from the zoo last night haha 3 of em and a baby joey”.
“Ill(sic) buy all 3 if use(sic) want to sell them,” Jackson replied, in a message sent Saturday afternoon.
The brothers were arrested a day later after they drove to Appin Hotel with the youngest of the monkeys on board, wrapped in Jesse’s jumper.
Both were charged with dealing with proceeds of crime. They would later admit they went to the hotel intending to on-sell the baby monkey, aged four weeks.
They spent the night in jail after refusing to take part in a police interview.
Jackson had withheld information that could have helped police to find the other two missing monkeys – only one of which had since been recovered - police prosecutor Peter Robinson told the court.
“Mr [Jackson] George has shown complete contempt for police and their desperate attempts to (restore) the family unit,” he said.
“Mr George has information that could lead to the finding of that third monkey.
“He has laughed and stated that … ‘you have my phone, you’ll work it out’.”
Considering bail, Magistrate Clare Farnan indicated she would factor in Jackson’s lack of cooperation because “it goes to the issue of remorse”.
But defence solicitor Sarah Carr successfully argued her client was under no requirement to assist police in finding the other monkeys.
Jackson was released on bail and will return to court on January 10 for sentencing.
Ms Carr, who represented both men, told the court Jesse George had played a limited role in the affair. But she conceded he knew the monkey was stolen and was “proceeds of crime” when he agreed to transport the creature.
Jesse was fined $1500 and placed on a two-year good behavior bond. He gave supporters a thumbs-up as he left the court room and, once a free man, ran directly inside the Court Hotel.
It is not suggested that either brother played a role in breaking into the park and removing the animals from their enclosure.
A police investigation into the theft is ongoing.
The following text messages were lifted from a lengthy exchange between an unnamed man and Jackson George
Man: Ay check out my monkey
Jackson George: Thats mad bro wanna sell it bruh ahah?
Bruh wanna sell that monkey thing ahah
Man: Wat ya reckon they worth they those finger monkeys Pygmy Morrisets or something like that
JG: U have been offered then for 500 befor but havent been offered any in ages bro
Man: yea I might but I WANA keep it for a few days see how it goes.
JG: How much u pay bro?
Man: Paid nothing got it from the zoo last night haha 3 of em and a baby joey
JG: Ill buy it bro let me know when u want to sell
Man: Yeah sweet don't mention the monkey to the bloke with the snake hel try cut my throat lol
JG: Got cash ready when you want ot sell. Yeah nah i dont tell anyone bro
Ill buy all 3 if use want to sell them