Not wanting to pay $1099 for a number of plants at Bunnings has landed an Elong Elong man in Dubbo Local Court.
Benjamin Allyn Brotherton, 40, of Wattle Road, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, February 7 to:
- Drive vehicle, illicit drug present in blood,
- Dishonestly obtain property by deception and
- Destroy or damage property less than $2000
Court documents state that at 6.30pm on Thursday, October 19, 2023, Brotherton entered Bunnings and went through a number of aisles before entering the garden nursery.
He spent about 30 minutes walking around the nursery, back and forth selecting various pots and plants and placing them on the ground.
Brotherton removed a dissectum valued at $429, a ficus valued at $249, a pink cascade valued at $219 and a weeping cherry valued at $202 from display and placed them in the trolley.
Brotherton removed the price labels secured to these plants and replaced them with various labels that he removed from cheaper items and placed them into a trolley along with several pots and saucers.
He also removed these price labels, replacing them with cheaper pots and saucer labels.
During this Brotherton also removed a Pyrus (Cleaveland) valued at $95, two Pyrus (Capital) valued at $95, a Cupressocyaris valued at $59 and a Callistemon valued at $59 from their pots, spilling soil over the floor.
Removing these plants from their pots caused significant damage to the plants roots.
Brotherton also selected a DIY automation swing date kit and Valvoline oil and made his way towards the registers.
He approached the register at the tool shop.
A staff member assisted him, scanning the items in the trolley however, did not notice the items scanned did not match those that were in the trolley and processed a payment for $1,174.30 for 10 items.
This payment was for the automatic gates ($923), Valvoline oil ($88.45) however all other items scanned and 'paid' for totalling $162, were not the items removed from the store.
He also scanned his powerpass trade card when making the purchase.
Brotherton exited the store with $1099 worth of plants without making attempts to correctly pay for them.
On Friday, October 20, 2023 a staff member came to work and entered the nursery area and began to water the plants when she noticed the soil on the ground.
Upon further inspection she discovered more soil and several plants that had been removed from their pots sitting on the ground. This disruption to the plant root system destroyed the plants which Bunnings was unable to sell.
The staff member took photos of the area including the mess and damaged items before reporting the matter to the store coordinator. The staff member and coordinator reviewed the CCTV footage which captured Brotherton's actions.
On Monday, October 30 police attended Bunnings and took a report. They were provided with the CCTV footage, copies of the purchase receipt, details of the damaged stock and value, along with several photographs taken by the staff member. Police were also provided with the powerpass account holder details - which weren't in Brotherton's name.
On November 25, police contacted the woman whose details were on the powerpass account. She informed police that Brotherton uses the powerpass account and would arrange for him to contact police.
About 7pm on Monday, December 11, Brotherton went to Dubbo police station with the woman. He was spoken to and given the opportunity to participate in an interview, which he declined.
When police asked him questions he was honest and said, "yeah I'll own it, I did it, it was stupid, I have the money to pay for it".
He also stated that he had recently relapsed and was affected by drugs.
In a separate incident, court documents state that at 8pm on Thursday, September 22, 2023, a white Izuzu tipper truck being driven by Brotherton was stopped by police on Whitewood Road in Dubbo for a random breath test.
Brotherton returned a negative result on his breath test but was then asked to do an oral fluid drug test which produced a positive result.
He was arrested and taken to Dubbo Police Station and asked a number of questions about the drugs, to which he responded, "I don't use drugs".
His secondary drug test returned a positive reading to methylamphetamine. In a separate incident, court documents state that at 8pm on Thursday, September 22, 2023, a white Izuzu tipper truck being driven by Brotherton was stopped by police on Whitewood Road in Dubbo for a random breath test.
Brotherton was disqualified from driving for three months and fined $250. He was also placed on a community corrections order for 12 months and ordered to compensate Bunnings $403.