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HomeGADGETSELECTRONICSAirport freight worker admits stealing $46K worth of electronics

Airport freight worker admits stealing $46K worth of electronics

A plan to steal electronic goods to fund a drug habit came unstuck for an airport freight worker when phones were registered in the names of close associates such as his wife, a Border Force employee.

Shannon William Hepi made the “incredibly bad decision” to use the drug ice to help him cope during the COVID-19 pandemic, a habit he funded with stolen electronic goods, a court was told on Friday.

The 42-year-old employed by Qantas admitted stealing phones and tablets worth $46,542 while working in the Brisbane airport freight operations in 2021.

Shannon Hepi is seen leaving the Brisbane District Court in Brisbane, Friday, March 1, 2024. Airport freight handler Shannon Hepi was part of a group charged over the theft of electronic devices. (AAP Image/Darren England)

He pleaded guilty to one charge relating to eight consignments of goods being couriered by StarTrack and TNT between February and May 2021.

A second offence, committed in October 2021, concerned a StarTrack consignment addressed to a Telstra shop that included 26 iPhones and other goods.

Hepi’s “incredibly bad decision” to use methamphetamine to cope with the workload came during the pandemic when he became principal carer of his children and his employment hours changed, his barrister Mark McCarthy said.

The offending came unstuck when phones were registered in Hepi’s name as well as that of his wife and close associates, Brisbane District Court Judge Carl Heaton said.

The offending lacked a level of sophistication as it was destined to be discovered but involved a breach of trust as Hepi was responsible for ensuring the safe passage of the consignments, he added.

“In many ways those goods are sitting ducks to this sort of behaviour – the integrity of the system relies upon honest people doing their job.”

Hepi’s wife, who has since resigned from the Australian Border Force, was charged in separate proceedings with having a stolen phone, the court was told.

She was acquitted due to being unaware of the source of the property her husband gave her.

Hepi had no criminal history at the time he stole the goods but has since been convicted of drug-related charges and stealing cash withdrawn but left behind at a supermarket self-checkout in February 2023 while he was on bail.

The offending had been a significant wake-up call for Hepi, who risked being deported to New Zealand as a result of the conviction, Judge Heaton said.

“I am satisfied that that realisation of all that you have to lose, will operate to motivate you to remain offence free into the future.”

Judge Heaton sentenced Hepi to two years behind bars with immediate release on parole, taking into account the guilty plea to two counts of stealing, one relating to products valued at more than $5000.

 

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