Not pictured: Criminal masterminds.
Not pictured: Criminal masterminds.

Dumb and dumber of Australian crime

From a suspected thief stuck in a chimney to an alleged drug dealer undone by an hilarious selfie, there's no doubt Australia has had its fair share of dopey delinquents.

Here are some of the best (or should that be worst).

Bird-brained theft

They woke, heads pounding after a beach party vodka binge, with no memory of the night before or explanation for the fairy penguin in their apartment.

But when tourists Rhys Owen Jones and Keri Mules checked their phones the crazy truth dawned, as videos revealed them swimming with dolphins and playing with penguins after breaking into Sea World on the Gold Coast.

 

Rhys Owen Jones outside court.
Rhys Owen Jones outside court.

 

The contrite Welshmen faced court in 2012, admitting trespass, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal, with their lawyer saying they'd "tried their incompetent best" to care for the stolen penguin.

They fed it bread and put it in the shower to stay cool, before releasing it into the wild, unaware the Gold Coast Broadwater was "full of bull sharks".

Dirk the Fairy Penguin safely back at Sea World. Picture: Luke Marsden
Dirk the Fairy Penguin safely back at Sea World. Picture: Luke Marsden

Luckily, Dirk the penguin was found by a member of the public and quickly settled back home with his girlfriend Peaches, according to Sea World staff.

The tourists also got lucky, escaping with a fine and no conviction, after the magistrate highlighted the "absolute stupidity" of their drunken actions. "You could have found yourselves in a morgue if you'd gone into the wrong enclosure,'' he said.

Bungling bank robbers

They were dubbed Dumb and Dumber from Down Under.

Byron Bay teens Luke Carroll and Anthony Prince were jailed in the US in 2005 after admitting a bumbling bank robbery in a small Colorado ski town.

Australian Luke Carroll points his gun in a hold-up at the WestStar Bank in Vail ski village near Denver. File picture
Australian Luke Carroll points his gun in a hold-up at the WestStar Bank in Vail ski village near Denver. File picture

The masked pair, who were regular customers at the bank, were recognised by terrified staff because of their Aussie accents and also forgot to take off the name tags from the store where they worked.

After escaping with more than $170,000 they also stopped at a Denver McDonald's and snapped photos of themselves in the toilet in "gangsta" poses with the loot and air pistols they'd used in the raid. Evidence police happily seized following a quick arrest.

A grinning Luke Carroll poses with some of the stolen money.
A grinning Luke Carroll poses with some of the stolen money.

When they faced court, Carroll's lawyer, Daniel Smith, called the robbery "a crime of infinite stupidity'' and "the saddest case'' he had been involved with in 33 years.

Both teens told the court they were ashamed of their actions. "I will never pull a stunt like this again," said Carroll. "No amount of money is worth the embarrassment and shame I have caused."

Slippery customer

Matthew Gatt claimed two stolen snakes climbed into his hoodie without him realising. Picture: Snakebusters
Matthew Gatt claimed two stolen snakes climbed into his hoodie without him realising. Picture: Snakebusters

When snakes went missing from a reptile display at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, police were quickly on the culprit's tail.

Matthew Gatt might have thought he'd successfully slipped away from the scene of the crime but he'd left one damning piece of evidence behind - he'd been photographed with the snakes.

Gatt pleaded guilty to theft and possessing protected wildlife without a licence in March this year, but suggested in court the pythons had slithered into his hoodie without his knowledge.

The court heard he'd been recognised by another exhibitor from the photo taken by Snakebusters' owner Raymond Hoser and on being called returned one snake he said he'd found in his car. The second was recovered after a police raid on his home.

Snakebusters’ Raymond Hoser called Gatt’s far-fetched story “crap” in court. Picture: Steve Tanner
Snakebusters’ Raymond Hoser called Gatt’s far-fetched story “crap” in court. Picture: Steve Tanner

Hearing Gatt's explanation, magistrate Denise Livingstone said: "Sounds like he is mocking me."

Fining him $8000, she added: "We can't have people stealing snakes. It's an amazingly stupid thing to do."

Conman sinks himself

Lex Adams was extradited from the Northern Territory to face justice in Queensland. File picture
Lex Adams was extradited from the Northern Territory to face justice in Queensland. File picture

Lex Adams pocketed almost $60,000 in crisis money after saying his boat had washed away in the devastating 2011 floods in Queensland.

Unfortunately for him, the real story was published in a sailing magazine - in an article he'd written himself.

Protesting his innocence: 'Dumbest criminal' now asking for surgery funds

In 2014, Adams was jailed for fraud and making false declarations over his rorting of the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal and other emergency funds.

Coverage of what really happened to Lex Adams’ boat in the Cruising Helmsman. File picture
Coverage of what really happened to Lex Adams’ boat in the Cruising Helmsman. File picture

The uninsured boat he'd lived on had actually been destroyed five months before the floods, when he grounded it on a sandbar in rough weather in far north Queensland.

Even as he was applying for flood assistance, Adams' first-person account of how he really lost the boat was published in Cruising Helmsman and promoted on the front page as: "'The day my life changed forever' - battler loses everything to sandbar."

In the article, he wrote: "The boat was uninsured and a total loss. I don't know what I am going to do now … That's life, I suppose. Just keep trying and keep your dreams in sight!"

Title fight

Jake Kevin Watts, 23, pleaded guilty to drugs and weapons charges in the Supreme Court of Rockhampton. Picture: Facebook
Jake Kevin Watts, 23, pleaded guilty to drugs and weapons charges in the Supreme Court of Rockhampton. Picture: Facebook

Newspaper reports dubbed Adams Queensland's dumbest criminal, but the Sunshine State has two more recent claimants to the title.

Jake Kevin Watts is a strong contender after reporting to police as part of bail conditions with a car full of drugs, guns and ammo.

Watts, who didn't even have licence, had tried to hide his illegal driving by hiding his car keys outside the Rockhampton police station before he went in, a court heard in 2017.

But a passer-by saw what he'd done, retrieved the keys and reported his actions to police, who then searched the vehicle.

Jailing Watts on drugs and weapons charges, which he admitted, Justice Duncan McMeekin said: "It's almost comical how he was arrested if it wasn't so serious."

Kian Talty left his birth certificate and other identifying items at a house he broke into. Picture: Facebook
Kian Talty left his birth certificate and other identifying items at a house he broke into. Picture: Facebook

This year, Cairns man Kian Talty made his bid for the title, after breaking into a home and trying to steal a car but running off after being confronted by the resident.

In his haste he dropped a backpack containing his birth certificate, tax documents, a court charge sheet for another matter and a mobile phone featuring multiple selfies.

"It was extremely brazen conduct and incredibly stupid in my submission," police prosecutor Natalie Keys said when he appeared in court, immediately pleading guilty.

His solicitor Brydie Bilic said the offence was "clearly not particularly well planned or premeditated", adding: "These are extremely early (guilty) pleas - perhaps not surprisingly in light of the facts."

Keri Mules. File pictures
Keri Mules. File pictures
Anthony Prince flashes the cash. Pictures: Supplied
Anthony Prince flashes the cash. Pictures: Supplied


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