April 24, 2020 16:17:04

A man accused of stealing a six-person spa from the home of a dead work colleague has been denied bail because of his drug history.

Matthew Malady, 31, fronted the Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court on theft and burglary charges after being arrested in the town on Wednesday.

Mr Malady is accused of breaking into the house of a former work colleague, following his death in late March, stealing various items, including a 2002 Holden Commodore, power tools, and a six-person spa.

The court heard the man’s partner and co-accused engaged a local tradesman to help remove the spa earlier this month, having allegedly told the builder the deceased was Mr Malady’s uncle.

On Wednesday, police executed a search warrant of the pair’s Warrnambool address, discovering a variety of allegedly stolen goods as well as the deceased’s driver’s licence, a small quantity of cannabis, 0.1grams of ice and firearm ammunition.

The spa was also taken from the address.

Magistrate Mark Stratmann said he had serious concerns about releasing Mr Malady back into the community due to his history of drug use.

“There are serious delays in drug treatment. In this environment, he poses a real risk,” Magistrate Stratmann said.

The magistrate said his main concerns were due to the fact that Mr Malady could not receive face-to-face drug rehabilitation as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Malady’s lawyer argued that such risks could be mitigated.

“Requiring him not to use dangerous drugs and to access telephone counselling … that amounts to reasonably adequate, thought not perfect, drug treatment to mitigate risks until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” lawyer Morgan Adams said.

Mr Adams said the police case against Mr Malady was tenuous, and that the bulk of allegations were actually between the man’s co-accused and the builder who removed the spa.

“Those two are squarely pointing the finger at each other, no-one is pointing the finger at Mr Malady. It’s not a particularly strong case against him,” Mr Adams said.

Magistrate Stratmann said the charges, if proven, were highly unpalatable and likely to attract a period of imprisonment.

Documents presented to the court revealed Mr Malady had burgled the same property three years earlier, a crime for which he was sentenced to five months’ jail.

Magistrate Stratmann denied the man bail, but said in a “non-COVID-19 environment” it was a case he may have approved.

“The issue is immediate access to drug treatment … if it were available I’d have no concerns with this bail,” he said.

Mr Malady will appear in court again in May.





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