A MAN who stole $65,000 worth of diamond rings from Michael Hill at Charlestown and then traded the jewellery for methylamphetamine and $1500 cash has been jailed for a maximum of two years in Newcastle Local Court.
Joshua Johnson, 25, of Gateshead, appeared in court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to nine offences, including larceny greater than $15,000, disposing of stolen property, intimidation, armed with intent, stealing and contravening an apprehended violence order.
Johnson walked into the Michael Hill store at Charlestown Square about 1.25pm on September 24 and started looking in a display cabinet near the entry that contained diamond rings valued at $5000 each, according to a statement of police facts.
Police said that while the three sales staff members were busy, Johnson reached over the display counter into the cabinet and removed two trays containing 32 diamond rings.
Johnson then ran out of the store and through a car park, according to a statement of police facts.
The entire incident was captured on CCTV footage and several witnesses saw a man running through the shopping centre, police say.
Police were called and lifted fingerprints from the counter that matched Johnson.
Staff at Michael Hill performed a stock take and found that the rings stolen were valued at $65,270.
But when he was arrested, Johnson would tell police that he traded the rings in for only a quantity of methylamphetamine and $1500 in cash.
He said he was in the store for about 15 minutes and wasn’t being served when he noticed the cabinet containing the rings was unlocked.
He reached over the counter and removed the trays, which he said contained diamond rings valued at a total of more than $100,000.
He then sold the rings for methylamphetamine and $1500 in cash, the transaction brokered by a friend, who he refused to tell police any details about.
“[Johnson] advised he had been informed that the rings were going to be melted down and, as such, police would not be able to recover any of them,” according to a statement of police facts.
Johnson, who was refused bail after his arrest in October, was jailed for a maximum of two years, with a non-parole period of 16 months on Monday.
Magistrate Ian Cheetham ordered he be eligible for release from custody on February 12, 2019.