News

When the law caught up with ‘Chook’

A SOUTH Grafton man who tried to escape the Grafton courthouse during a bail hearing last year has been sentenced to close to two years in jail.

Steven John Fowler appeared before Magistrate Jeff Linden at Grafton Local Court on Tuesday, over more than 10 charges including break enter and steal, larceny, shoplifting, possessing a prohibited drug and attempting to escape custody.

He pleaded guilty to all bar two - a charge relating to an energy bill in his name paid for using a stolen credit card, and a break, enter and steal offence in relation to the theft of 1000 cartridges for a percussion slaughter gun, for which he declined a police interview.

In police facts, it was noted the 34-year-old had a lengthy criminal history before the matter before court, with nine warrants and more than 25 charges ranging from robbery and causing malicious damage to drug-related offences.

It was after being refused bail in September due to a long list of dishonesty and drug-related offences, that Fowler broke free from corrective services officers ran towards a closed door on the other side of the room, which also gave him direct access to the magistrate's bench.

The door was locked and he was quickly apprehended.

On Tuesday, Mr Linden sentenced him to a total of 20 months' jail, with a nine month non-parole period.

James Cook, who shared some matters with Mr Fowler and was charged with obtaining property by deception and having suspected stolen goods on premises, was sentenced on Wednesday in Grafton Local Court by way of a 12-month Intensive Corrections Order.

Four months in the life of a small-time criminal

June 5, 2015: A witness sees Fowler place a $45 Logitech mouse in his bag at the Computer Doctor. When confronted, he puts it back on the shelf and pushes past witness to leave the building.

June 6: Fowler is captured on CCTV stealing waterproof digital camera from South Grafton post office, worth $49.99.

July 9-10: A box of 1000 cartridges used to slaughter cattle stolen from the Armidale Rd abattoir during a break and enter. The door has been bent, leaving a hole large enough to enter. Police later locate a latent fingerprint on the door of a small boning room, which has been unused for three years.

July 15: Fowler is stopped by police outside the South Grafton McDonald's for riding a bike without a helmet. He admits to carrying a knife, says he carries it for protection, and puts a 7.5cm retractable blade in the bin. A search of his bag reveals two NSW pension cards and a girl's drivers licence, believed to have been stolen, 5.9grams of cannabis, and four cartridges for a percussion slaughter gun. Fowler makes admissions to stealing a computer mouse from the Computer Doctor. He is charged with three counts of stolen goods in custody and one count of larceny and granted bail by police to attend court on August 10.

July 23: Police find two more percussion slaughter gun cartridges at Fowler's South Grafton home.

July 25: Fowler is captured on CCTV stealing four computer hard-drives from Harvey Norman in Grafton, worth $536.

August 4: Police attend Fowler's Margaret Cr address and he answers the door wearing the same clothes as in the CCTV video. He makes full admissions to the theft and tells police he stole them because he had drug debts. He says he sold two on Grafton Buy Swap Sell for $80 each, and the other two to friends. The charges are added to his scheduled court appearance.

August 10: Appears in Grafton Local Court, bail continued.

August 21: Police visit Fowler's home regarding waterproof camera. Again he makes full admissions, saying he owed some dangerous people money.

September 16: Taxi video footage at 5.27am shows Fowler exiting vehicle at Margaret Crs and return holding a number of solar lights. He then travels in a taxi with another male to a Shell service station. 9.01am - An energy bill under Fowler's name is paid for by a credit card believed to be stolen from a car the night before.

September 22: He is arrested and remanded in custody after solar lights found on his premises. He makes full admissions to stealing solar lights but strongly denies using the credit card. He is also charged with break, enter and steal in relation to abattoir offence.

September 23: Fowler breaks free of corrective services officers and runs to the other side of the courtroom after being refused bail in Grafton Local Court.

January 5, 2016: The South Grafton man is sentenced to 20 months, with a nine-month non-parole period.



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