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Drugged-up robbers terrorise young family

Friday, 21st March, 2014

Three men who left a mother terrified and a man with knife wounds during two armed home invasions committed last year have been sentenced to a combined 25 years behind bars.

Brandishing a hunting knife and tomahawk, Matthew Jack Ford, Brett David Mallon and Cody Aaron Miller were hunting for drugs when they went on their August 31 rampage in the city’s south and north, the District Court was told yesterday.

Their first target was a house in Boughtman Street - occupied by a mother and her five children, the youngest aged five weeks - believing methamphetamine was inside.

While Ford’s girlfriend waited in the car, the trio entered the house through a screen door before 41-year-old Ford held the hunting knife towards the woman and yelled: “Where’s the meth?”

The woman, who was holding her five-week-old baby at the time, later told police she was left terrified by the ordeal, during which her two eldest children managed to climb out of a bedroom window and run to a neighbour who called police.

But by the time officers arrived on the scene, Ford, Mallon and Miller had left and headed north to their next victim, Jesse Whitfield, an alleged drug dealer known to Mallon, the court was told.

After breaking in through a bedroom window of Whitfield’s Chapple Lane house, Mallon and the youngest of the group, Miller, grabbed Whitfield by the throat as his terrified girlfriend cowered in the corner.

With the hunting knife held against his neck, Whitfield was then told by one of his assailants to “get on your f...... knees or we’ll f...... kill you”, before being ordered to reveal the whereabouts of his drugs.

As two of the intruders searched the house a third, who has not been identified, used the knife to twice cut at the topless Whitfield’s naked back.

The attack left two shallow but lengthy cuts on both sides of Whitfield’s bloodied body.

Stealing over $1,000 in cash as well as a laptop, Play Station, mobile phone, watch and jewellery, the trio also left with an esky they believed contained cannabis.

But unbeknown to the attackers the entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras that Whitfield had installed inside the house.

Police viewed the footage which clearly identified Ford, who has a large tattoo on one side of his face.

They arrested him the following day at his house and Miller the day after at a flat in Crystal Street. Thirty-four-year-old Mallon was arrested some two weeks later.

Each pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated break, enter and steal, and appeared in the District Court for sentencing yesterday.

The court heard that all three were drug addicts with long criminal records and  had little or no prospect of rehabilitation.

Twenty-year-old Miller was on parole at the time of the home invasions while Ford had previously been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

Justice Anthony Blackmore said while each offender had a long term drug addiction, none had shown any willingness to address it.

He sentenced each man to eight years and four months’ jail, with a non-parole period of six years and three months.

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