Serial thief Nathaniel James Harris jailed over Geraldton Croquet Club burglary

Michael RobertsMidwest Times

A serial burglar has been handed a three-and-a-half-year jail term after a home invasion in Utakarra last December triggered a “three strike” mandatory prison sentence.

Nathaniel James Harris pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of threatening to injure a person, in Geraldton District Court last week.

The court was told Harris entered the Geraldton Croquet Club last November while the club’s members were busy playing outside and stole a mobile phone, three lotto tickets and $40 cash from a handbag.

Club members confronted Harris when they returned from play and called police.

He then grabbed a croquet mallet and said “I’m going to hurt someone” before leaving the club.

Harris was arrested by police a short time later and spent five days in custody before he was released on bail.

About a month later Harris snuck through the back door of a home in Utakarra and stole a mobile phone, tablet and cash worth $1250. The victim was asleep in a bedroom while Harris invaded the home.

He uploaded images of himself to the victim’s Facebook page using the stolen mobile phone.

The 35-year-old was denied bail and remained in custody until last week’s District Court hearing.

Defence lawyer Karen Ward said Harris was looking for items that could be traded for drugs or cash.

She said Harris had a long history of substance abuse and suffered “significant childhood trauma” in an impoverished background.

“He has very limited educational opportunities, which leads to zero employment opportunities,” she said.

“He has almost never held employment. The only job he has ever had was for about six weeks doing some gardening.”

Judge Gary Massey said the Utakarra home burglary triggered a minimum two-year jail term as Harris was a repeat offender.

“I can’t suspend the terms,” he said. “Even if I could, I wouldn’t have done so, because of the seriousness of the offending.”

“In my view, it is in both the best interests of the community and your interests that you are well supported and have access to services upon your release from prison.”

Harris will be eligible for parole after serving 21 months of his sentence.

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