A serial criminal who tried to steal from a Canberra hardware store was found soon after by police face-down in grassland, where he told an officer "I'm really scared".
In the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday, Justice John Burns sentenced David Celeski to a total 19 months in prison. The builder has already served five months behind bars, and the judge wholly suspended the rest of the sentence.
An agreed statement of facts said about 2.20am on November 19, 2015, Celeski and his co-offender Phillip Avis were lurking outside the old Masters Home Improvement store at Majura Park. Their vehicle was a Hertz rental truck with blacked-out number plates.
The documents said Celeski spray-painted a CCTV camera before the balaclava-clad duo hauled a Bosch electric oven worth nearly $2500 from the store's docking area.
The oven was later found in grass, as was Celeski.
Police said the store's alarm was triggered when Celeski sprayed the CCTV camera. A manager turned up, spotted the pair, and followed them out of Masters.
Officers said Celeski and Avis led them on a short chase and, after the duo pulled over, they jumped out and ran.
Constable Brendan Moss chased Celeski and found him face-down in long grass. The documents said he asked the man, "What are you doing?"
Celeski replied, "Nothing, I'm really scared", and later said he and the co-offender "were just picking up rubbish from Masters, we didn't steal anything".
The documents said about 1.30am on January 22, 2016, two women spotted Celeski acting suspiciously and loitering in a residential underground car park.
A few hours later, another woman noticed him rifling through her neighbour's Alfa Romeo. When police arrived and approached the car, they heard shuffling and called out: "What are you doing under there? Get out from under the car."
Celeski emerged from under the car and said: "Sorry, it's not my fault. I didn't do it. I'm being set up."
The documents said he immediately tried to run from the garage, told police to "f--- off, leave me alone", and they had to capsicum spray him to subdue him. Officers later found Celeski in possession of methamphetamine.
His suspended prison sentence will expire on November 28, 2021, and he will have to abide by an 18-month good behaviour order.
Justice Burns on Tuesday said Celeski had also served jail time in NSW for unrelated offences, hence the delay in ACT court proceedings.