Teen spree on a stolen card

BALLINA Funeral Home proprietor Neil Gray became a victim of fraud when a teenager used his stolen credit card to go on a spending spree.

Mekonnen Mekbib Van Dommele, 19, pleaded guilty in Lismore Local Court yesterday to a series of fraud charges stemming from the use of two stolen credit cards.

The card from a second victim was even used by Van Dommele, a painter, to pay for a taxi fare to the Ballina police station so his mate could report to police.

Mr Gray's credit card was in a wallet stolen from his funeral home office on the afternoon of December 8, 2007.

Between 7.45pm that night and 2.20am the next day Van Dommele spent $290.99 on the card to buy a 24-stubbie case of beer and other items.

He used the Ballina taxi service four times.

CCTV inside the Coast County Liquor store showed Van Dommele buying alcohol at the time the card was fraudulently used.

In the second series of offences Van Dommele racked up $1100.88 in fraud after a credit card was stolen from the Ballina home of Leonard Keith on February 27, 2008. The offender who stole the card gave it to him.

Van Dommele brought himself a $549 mobile phone and his friend a $500 mobile phone.

Magistrate Annette Sinclair said his behaviour showed a high degree of criminality and released him on a 12 month good behaviour bond under probation and parole supervision. Van Dommele was ordered to reimburse the banks.

Speaking outside the court, he said he had been an Ethiopian war orphan before being adopted by an Australian family.

He would pay the money back and had learned his lesson.

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