Crime spree ends at Tintenbar

AN interstate, five-year manhunt for a thief whose offences were driven by an addiction to poker machines and alcohol ended in Ballina this week.

Nicholas David Ryan, 29, from the ACT pleaded guilty in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday to multiple theft and fraud offences dating back to 2007.

Police had been searching for Ryan since he stole more than $70,000 worth of flat screen TVs from his former employer, Hotpoint Electronics, in 2007.

On Monday afternoon, Ballina police operating a speed camera spotted Ryan's stolen van driving along the Pacific Highway at Tintenbar.

After police pulled him over, Ryan told the officers "you've got me", the court heard yesterday.

Ryan stole the mail delivery van he was in from Canberra on January 2. He left the ACT and drove to Sydney where he sold a flat screen TV that was in the back of the van to someone in Maroubra.

He also admitted to drinking 24 bottles of wine located in the back of the van and throwing the delivery driver's wallet out the window.

Leaving Sydney, Ryan filled his newly-acquired van at a petrol station in Bondi but drove off without paying.

He then drove to the Byron Bay Tourist Park where he used his proceeds of crime to fund his accommodation, food and entertainment, court documents state.

But his beachside vacation ended when he was stopped at Tintenbar.

In Lismore Local Court, Ryan also admitted to stealing cash from a bar he worked at in 2009 and stealing the flat screens in 2007.

He also pleaded guilty to stealing a laptop, $650 and a stereo system from a man he met on an online dating site in 2009. Ryan stole the man's car before dumping it at Kings Cross in Sydney.

Defence lawyer Tom Trembath said Ryan came unstuck in 2007 after a relationship breakdown.

"He does not have an addiction to drugs but a chronic alcohol and gambling, particularly poker machines, addiction," he said.

Ryan had a record of chronic dishonesty that began when he was 17, Mr Trembath added.

Magistrate Jeff Linden sentenced Ryan to 18 months jail with a non-parole period of 12 months.

Magistrate Linden handed down three other prison sentences that Ryan would serve concurrently.

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