Crime spree in region lands serial Echuca offender in jail

By Ivy Jensen

AN ECHUCA man who went on a two-month crime spree that ended with him fleeing from police through five towns has been jailed for three years.

Damian Graham has been convicted of multiple counts of burglary, stealings, vehicle theft, deception, driving, deception and Bail Act-related offences in Echuca, Tongala, Kyabram, Girgarre, Rochester, Nanneella, Elmore, Strathdale, Mooroopna, Marong and Axedale.

The spree began on August 15, when the 29-year-old broke into Echuca's Telstra Shop and stole two mobile phones.

The following night, he burgled a Haverfield St house and stole a laptop, iPad, nine bottles of red wine, foreign currency and the keys to a $25,000 Lexus sedan; as well as a Landsborough St home, taking more than $32,000 worth of cash, jewellery and computers.

On August 30, Graham went back to the Haverfield St home and stole the Lexus and used keys to enter the Echuca-Moama Theatre Company shed in Simmie St to steal a laptop computer.

The car was found dumped in the Murray River on September 1.

He stole a pushbike from a Crofton St caravan park on September 7 before causing $55,000 in damages to 11 parking meters in Echuca and stealing more than $1000 in coins from the cash boxes on September 8-9.

Graham committed another burglary at a Campaspe Esplanade home on September 10, where $10,000 in cash and $80,000 in jewellery were stolen.

He told police the stolen cash and property was spent on drugs, cigarettes, cars and living expenses.

Graham was finally taken into custody after a dangerous cat and mouse pursuit across five towns.

While driving dangerously, at times on the wrong side of the road, clocking up speeds of 140km/h over five hours, Graham continued to flee from police, even after running headfirst into another vehicle.

Graham stole two cars in less than an hour, with police having to deploy spikes, and Police Air Wing, dog squad and multiple roving patrols from eight towns in an attempt to stop him.

Graham was seen in a Holden Commodore driving through Tongala and into Echuca at high speeds before colliding with a car on the Murray Valley Hwy near the Bay of Biscay.

One witness said she nearly had a head-on collision with a car near the Echuca racecourse, while another said she saw a car speeding into Echuca with "half the side of his car hanging off".

Graham was seen going through the Ogilvie Ave roadworks about 90km/h on the wrong side of the road and almost hit two cars.

A woman who was walking in Echuca said she would be dead if she didn’t notice the car or had her headphones in.

After running over tyre deflation devices, Graham dumped the Commodore in parkland near Mt Terrick Rd before stealing a Ford Ranger from Carlisle Way at Cunningham Downs retirement village.

He fled from police and drove through Rochester and Elmore where he dumped the car and stole a Mazda CX-5 SUV from Degraves Rd.

Graham surrendered to police later that night. He has been in custody since then.

Graham also pleaded guilty to numerous charges of burglary and theft on business in the Elmore, Bendigo and Mooroopna areas.

In Echuca Magistrates Court last month, Graham was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 21 months.