Martin Christopher Dingle leaves court.
Martin Christopher Dingle leaves court. Felicity Caldwell

Flood thief walks free

AN Ipswich man who stole donations intended for flood victims appeared before a magistrate yesterday – and walked out with an $800 fine.

As the floodwaters receded last month, 21-year-old Martin Christopher Dingle found a job collecting goods from St Vincent de Paul donation bins through a labour hire company.

On January 14, just two days after the flood peak, police conducting anti-looting patrols spotted Dingle driving into an evacuated unit complex in Mill Street, Goodna.

The street had been abandoned because of flooding and was in darkness due to power cuts.

Dingle became abusive when officers discovered police tape, which had been used to cordon off flooded streets, stashed in his car.

In the boot, Dingle had a stolen stereo and DVD player.

He falsely claimed his boss had given him permission to take them from the charity.

Ipswich Magistrates Court heard Dingle became agitated, throwing his arms around and walking away from police, despite being told to calm down.

He then kicked the ground and some bushes and yelled at police before being physically restrained and arrested.

Dingle pleaded guilty to obstructing police and stealing as a clerk and servant.

He was fined $800.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the case broke his heart.

“My advice to him is to get out there and get out on the streets and help the community,” Cr Pisasale said.

Cr Pisasale said Dingle should not have been fined, but instead ordered to volunteer for St Vincent de Paul for 12 months.

“To go and help people or cleaning up in a work program to make sure he sees the effect he has on people – maybe that will help him to see the error of his ways,” he said.

When asked in court if he had any explanation for his acts, Dingle, who represented himself, said “not really, no”.

After losing his job with St Vincent de Paul, Dingle said he now had a paid contract helping the clean-up effort in St Lucia, Brisbane.

Magistrate Donna MacCallum told Dingle police had better things to do in the aftermath of the floods than deal with him.

“These are matters that people feel quite strongly about, particularly at the time this was occurring,” Ms MacCallum said.

“The fact it takes police away from emergency and relief work is a serious matter,” she added.

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