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Got their man

Wednesday, 12th March, 2014

A young man who badly injured an 81-year-old woman when he mugged her in Oxide Street has been sentenced to three and a half years in jail.

The crime was committed 18 months ago and yesterday the District Court was told how Broken Hill detectives tracked down the assailant and his accomplice.

The victim, who was visiting the city in 2012 with fellow members of the South Australian Probus Club, suffered facial lacerations that needed 14 stitches.

In January this year detectives interviewed Justin Bugmy (24) in Silverwater prison in Sydney and charged him with aggravated robbery.

Bugmy pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the court’s local sittings.

The court was told that about 8pm on September 6, 2012 Merle Fabish was walking back to the Desert Sands motel with her friends after having a meal when Bugmy ran out from Beryl Lane and pulled her handbag from her shoulder.

The force spun Mrs Fabish around and she landed face down on the footpath.

Witnesses, including passing motorists, saw Bugmy run back into the lane where another man, Gregory Benjamin Dutton, was waiting.

Some of the witnesses chased them up the lane but lost sight of them when they reached Sturt Park.

Mrs Fabish’s handbag was found under a tree the next day but her purse which had contained about $400 was missing. Bugmy admitted that he had used the stolen cash to buy amphetamines.

Judge Blackmore told the court yesterday that police had taken DNA samples from beer cans that Bugmy and Dutton (32), had thrown away when they ran up the lane.

Although the men were wearing hooded tops, police also had “quite clear” footage from the Southern Cross Hotel’s CCTV cameras that showed the type of clothes and brand new shoes that witnesses had identified as Bugmy’s, the judge said. 

DNA samples from the hoodie and shoes Bugmy was wearing also matched, he said.

In addition, detectives had obtained recordings of phone calls that Bugmy had made from prison, including one from the Broken Hill jail in which he said: “The last time I was out, I mugged an old lady. She nearly died on me.”

In January police interviewed both men in prison and, confronted with the evidence, each pleaded guilty.

Dutton was charged with concealing a serious indictable offence and was sentenced in the Local Court this month to six months’ jail.

Judge Blackmore described the crime as “cowardly” and said that Bugmy had committed it while he was on parole.

It was also aggravated by the injuries that Mrs Fabish had suffered, he said.

However, the judge accepted the argument put by Bugmy’s lawyer, William Buxton from the Aboriginal Legal Service, that it was opportunistic offence.

“There was no weapon and no planning,” the judge said.

He also accepted Mr Buxton’s submission that Bugmy’s neglect as a child had contributed much to his long-running trouble with the law.

He was put into State care at the age of six and stayed there until he was 16. He had little contact with his alcoholic mother and none with his father. His drug use started when he was 11 and he was now addicted to them, the judge said.

The remorse he had expressed for this crime also appeared genuine, Judge Blackmore said, and “despite his past history, he is by no means a lost cause.”

For this reason, the judge said, he would impose a longer than normal parole period and he advised Bugmy to take advantage of the drug rehabilitation and education services provided in prison.

He sentenced Bugmy to two years in jail and another 18 months on parole. 

“The time of your release is up to you,” Judge Blackmore told him. “It will depend on how well you behave in prison.”

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