Horsham's Craig Kelly sentenced to jail for theft

Horsham shooter Craig Kelly in December 2015.
Horsham shooter Craig Kelly in December 2015.

A CHAMPION Wimmera shooter stole guns, ammunition and cash worth more than $25,000 from a Horsham business, a court has heard.

Horsham’s Craig Kelly, 55, appeared in Horsham Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft from J and A Shooting, where he was previously employed.

Kelly was sentenced to four months in jail.

Between January 2013 and May 2016, Kelly stole five firearms, valued at $7700 along with ammunition valued at $11,552. 

The court heard that on several occasions, Kelly transferred firearms into his own name and didn’t pay for them.

He also gave items away to customers without payment. He stole other items such as five jackets, a gunsmithing kit, two bags, a rifle scope and a sleeping bag.

Kelly was president of the Central Wimmera Clay Target Club during the time of the offending.

The court heard he also stole $1000 from the club.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Belinda Ryan said J and A Shooting owner William Jorgensen noticed the business was running at a loss and took out two business loans, despite sales being stronger than ever.

She said Mr Jorgensen became suspicious that Kelly was stealing from the store and inspected the store’s security cameras.

Mr Jorgensen found that three of the eight cameras had been turned off and he had them re-connected.

In May 2016, security cameras captured Kelly stealing money from the cash registered on two occasions.

On another occasion, a customer paid $300 in cash for an item and Kelly helped the customer take the item to their car, while still carrying the cash.

When he returned to the store, without the money.

Security cameras also captured Kelly taking a drag bag and two cases of Winchester cartridges to his car.

Kelly also transferred a $3300 rifle into his name and didn’t pay any money for it.

On May 16, 2016, police searched Kelly’s house and recovered many items that were stolen from the store.

They also found a firearm and ammunition was not stored correctly in a gun safe.

Upon hearing the news of Kelly’s arrest, two customers contacted police saying Kelly had given them items for free.

The court heard, Kelly also paid for a gun using $1000 from the Central Wimmera Clay Target Club.  

Senior Constable Ryan argued there was a degree of aggravation in Kelly’s offending.

Defence solicitor Denis O'Brien argued Kelly was remorseful and embarrassed by his actions.

He said Kelly was rank as the number two shooter in the country and had been selected to represent Australia four times, but because of the charges, he was only able to do so once. Mr O’Brien said because of the charges, Kelly had lost all of his shooting friends and was now too embarrassed to go out.

Magistrate Ronald Saines said there was no other option but jail.

He said the seriousness of the charges were at the highest end of the scale.