City boy in big trouble

A CITY slicker, who got 'anxious' in a small town environment while staying with his father in Casino, swam the Richmond River to escape pursuing residents and police after he wrecked a fence, was caught breaking into a house, then got bogged trying to steal a four-wheel-drive.

Michael John Armstrong, 27, pleaded guilty in Lismore Local Court to destroying property on October 4 - a Colorbond fence; break, enter and steal; trespass; and take a motor vehicle without its owner's permission - all in the space of two hours.

Armstrong first came under notice that night at 8.30pm when police reported he was nearly hit by a tow truck while walking along the Bruxner Highway at Casino.

Then at 9.30pm, neighbours all came out of their houses to look when he noisily kicked and destroyed a metal panel in a fence at Willis Place.

Minutes later he forced open a back door to a home in Laurie Place. When confronted by the returning owners while emptying their drawers Armstrong forced open a window and jumped through a flyscreen.

At 10.30pm, as police patrolled nearby streets looking for the intruder, a resident of Sextonville Road reported Armstrong after a man opened a rear door to his house, 'stuck his head in' then fled when he saw people inside.

In the same street he started a Ford Maverick 4WD then reversed it through a fence into a neighbour's yard, where it became bogged.

Chased by residents and police, Armstrong ran to the river, jumped in and swam away, but was arrested later that night.

His legal aid lawyer said the Redfern, Sydney, resident became anxious while on his first visit to the small town and had mixed some medication with alcohol before the offences.

Magistrate Michael Dakin jailed Armstrong for 20 months, ordering him to serve a non-parole period of 15 months.

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