Dumb things: Ten times crime really didn't pay

CRIMINALS come in all shapes and sizes and not all of them are masterminds.

The Northern Star has compiled a list of some of our region's dumbest crimes, excluding cases currently before the courts.

Looking at the offences, ranging from the infamous "dumb and dumber" robbery in Colorado in 2005 by Suffolk Park lads Anthony Prince and Luke Carroll, to the man who led police on a low-speed chase in a forklift with a maximum speed of 15km/h, the obvious question is: why, why, oh God, why?

>> Enough talk - take me to the list!

Southern Cross University psychologist and brain researcher Dr Jim Donnelly said crime generally came down to a combination power, need, greed, addiction and lifestyle.

Getting loaded on booze or drugs generally resulted in, um, less considered crimes.

"If drugs and alcohol are involved, both of those kinds of substances decrease the functioning of the brain's frontal lobe," he said.

"The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that allows humans a moment to reflect between stimulus and response.

"As humans we should be able to say here's a stimulus, maybe this is an opportunity to get money, and consider the consequences.

"But that whole frontally mediated process gets dampened by the substances."

"Sometimes it has to do with need, so for a person who is a drug addict and is focused on making the pain go away they need a fix and their crimes are based on needing money and not thinking about the consequences," he said.

The Northern Rivers' 10 dumbest crimes (in no particular order).

In this photo made available by the FBI on October 21, 2005, Anthony Prince is shown holding stacks of the money he stole from a Colorado bank.
In this photo made available by the FBI on October 21, 2005, Anthony Prince is shown holding stacks of the money he stole from a Colorado bank.

1. Dumb and Dumber: 

Byron Bay men Anthony Prince and Luke Carroll made global headlines in 2005 when they robbed a Colorado bank, where they were regular customers, armed with BB guns and stole $132,000 US ($203,000 AUD).

During the robbery, Prince and Carroll, who were both 19, wore name tags from the Vail sporting goods store where both worked and they failed to disguise their distinct Australian accents.

Prince was sentenced to four-and-a-half year's jail, while Carroll, who pushed one of the female tellers to the floor and injured her arm during the robbery, was jailed for five years.

2. Seven-year-old driver: 

A Lismore man's seven-year-old son, who was caught driving his drunk father home on the Gold Coast in 2013, pleaded with a magistrate not to jail his father.

When police spotted Peter Sivewright's Ford Falcon sedan driving without headlights about 3am on June 21, they pulled the car over and found the boy in the drivers seat crying histerically.

Sivewright, 42, was banned from driving for 21 months.

3. Paper number plates: 

A 57-year-old Nimbin man who made his own number plates for his unregistered car in 2013 told police they had no jurisdiction when they pulled him over.

"If I pay I come under the Crown, if I don't pay I do not come under your jurisdiction," police allege the man said.

He was charged with driving unlicensed, using an unregistered vehicle, refusing to state his name and address, and unlawfully possessing an object resembling a number plate.

4. Torchlight driver: 

A 24-year-old Nimbin man who was too stoned to find the headlight switch was caught driving using a torch in 2012.

Witnesses told police the man's car had no lights on and he was holding a torch out the window to see.

The man was charged with charged with possessing a prohibited drug, negligent driving, not driving on the far left side of the road, driving in the dark with no lights and using a non-compliant vehicle. 

5. High speed chase to the police station, 1: 

A man who failed to pay for petrol in July 2013 then held up IGA Goonellabah at knife-point led police on a pursuit around the streets of Lismore before parking outside Lismore police station. 

When police spotted the 32-year-old Goonellabah man driving on Rotary Dr, a pursuit was initiated, which ended when the man parked outside the police station. 

The man was charged with dishonestly obtain property by deception, robbery while armed with dangerous weapon, police pursuit - not stop - drive dangerously, and possess prohibited drug.

STRANGE BUT TRUE: Mechanic Stephen Ford with the forklift stolen from Lismore Tractor and Machinery and taken for a, err, spin.
STRANGE BUT TRUE: Mechanic Stephen Ford with the forklift stolen from Lismore Tractor and Machinery and taken for a, err, spin. "Why you’d take a forklift I don’t know," he said. "It only does 15km/h’. Doug Eaton

6. Low speed chase in a forklift: 

A drunk disqualified Nimbin driver was caught by police at North Lismore in August 2014 minutes after he stole a forklift and was chased by an onlooker.

The onlooker relayed information to police who arrested the 23-year-old within a kilometre of where he stole the forklift.

The man was charged with mid-range drink driving, possess prohibited drug, drive while disqualified, take and drive conveyance, malicious damage and two counts of entering enclosed lands. 

An Air Asia jet.
An Air Asia jet.

7. Lismore men's drunken rampage on international flight: 

Three Lismore men who went on a drug and alcohol-fuelled rampage on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Gold Coast in February 2014 were fined over their antics.

Federal Police facts stated the men said to passengers, "We're going to stab you in the neck and shiv you in the kidneys. We are going to teach you to respect us."

After pleading guilty Marley Galpin, 21, and Mark Elvish, 20, were fined $1200 each and Nicholas Elvish was fined $1000. 

8. Teen buys drugs to put in party bags: 

A Gold Coast teenager who bought $2000 worth of cannabis and 874 LSD tabs from Nimbin to give to birthday guests in party bags was placed on a good behaviour bond.

Samuel Robert Wessell was 18 and working as a tiler, when he did a cross-border drug run to Nimbin and bought $2000 worth of cannabis and $1500 worth of LSD.

Wessel was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond, fined $500 and ordered to perform 160 hours community service.

A man was arrested outside the Lismore police station in September 2014 after being involved in a police pursuit.
A man was arrested outside the Lismore police station in September 2014 after being involved in a police pursuit. Staff Photographer


 9. High-speed chase to police station, 2:  


A drunk Lismore man who managed to avoid road spikes during a pursuit in September 2014 drove to the police station and handed himself in.

The man, who was charged with drink driving the previous Sunday, allegedly told one officers he was driving to the Lismore police station.

He was arrested when he got to the police station and charged with drink driving.


We're giving away an iPad 2 in 2014, and being in the draw is super easy!
We're giving away an iPad 2 in 2014, and being in the draw is super easy!

10. Technology catches thief: 

A thief who broke into a Goonellabah home and stole an iPod and an iPad in 2012 was not very tech savvy.

Taking photos which were automatically uploaded to iCloud led to the victim identifying the thief's partner when she spotted her at a supermarket.

The woman's 34-year-old partner was charged with four counts of possessing goods likely to have been stolen and one count of supplying a prohibited drug.        



Beyond the silly, Dr Donnelly said there were various reasons for people committing crimes.

"There are people who we might term psychopaths who get something out of breaking the rules and getting something over on others without actually having to work for it," he said.

"Then there are people who figure that crime is a way of having a quality of life and they don't really have any other options to achieve the same quality of life so they become career criminals.

"There are also people who commit very high-level white collar crimes and it's about power and greed - that's what motivates them."

Jailing some offenders can create worse problems, Dr Donnelly said.

"The time in prison doesn't necessarily translate into rehabilitation in some offenders, it translates into learning new ways of committing crimes without getting caught," he said.

Addiction can change brain functioning, Dr Donnelly said, leading the crimes committed by an offender to escalate.

Topics:  crime editors picks offbeat

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