A thief broke into a room at Club Wyndham in Airlie Beach and stole a range of items. Photo: File
A thief broke into a room at Club Wyndham in Airlie Beach and stole a range of items. Photo: File

Brazen thief swipes car, credit cards from holiday-makers

A RELAXING holiday in Airlie Beach descended into chaos after a man went from enjoying breakfast with his young family to chasing his rental car down the driveway when a thief swiped the vehicle.

A Cannonvale man the rental car, along with a swag of other possessions, from the family after he broke into their room at Club Wyndham in July.

Dan Allen Degney fronted Proserpine Magistrates Court today after pleading guilty to four offences, including two counts of break and enter and one count of unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Sarah Rowe told the court Degney broke into the room by taking off some wooden louvres while the family was at breakfast.


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He took a swag of items including electronic tablets, an iPad, handbag, make-up bag and credit and bank cards as well as the keys to the victim's rental car.

Sen-Constable Rowe said the victim went back to his room and then went to reception to report the theft but he saw Degney driving the rental car being out of the resort.

The man ran to the car to try and stop Degney but couldn't, Sen-Constable Rowe said.

Thanks to a fingerprint left at the scene, a witness description and the Find My Phone app, Degney was soon identified and found at a shopping centre.

A single officer caught up with Degney but when the officer called for back-up, Degney put up a struggle.

Sen-Constable Rowe said Degney kicked a police vehicle and watch-house cell walls when being arrested, and blew snot onto cell windows.

The court heard Degney's criminal history was littered with similar offences.

"He takes the property of others without the consideration of the effects on his victims and in this case he also took property of children," Sen-Constable Rowe said.

Lawyer Peta Vernon appeared for Degney, explaining he had a troubling upbringing with a mother who was a heroin addict and father who had gang connections.

The court heard the 37-year-old was now in a relationship and considered himself a stepfather to two young children.

"His offending behaviour comes about from alcohol abuse and he turns to alcohol as way of release," Ms Vernon said.

"His behaviour upon arrest was appalling but once he sobered up and settled down he was compliant and entered pleas of guilty at the earliest possible opportunity."

Proserpine Magistrates Court.
Proserpine Magistrates Court.

During sentencing, Magistrate James Morton ran through Degney's criminal history, which included convictions for fraud, burglary and break and enter.

"It seems very clear to this court that the courts have given you every message, every opportunity and every step of the sentencing process to go on the straight and narrow and be a law-abiding citizen," Mr Morton said.

"But it seems you have not taken those opportunities afforded to you.

"These were unsophisticated crimes but they were planned and calculated so you could gain from unsuspecting victims."

Taking into account Degney had spent two days in pre-sentence custody, he was sentenced to a total of two years' jail and he will be eligible for parole on September 19.

He was also disqualified from driving for six months.

Despite the prosecution seeking restitution of $933 and Degney telling the court he wanted an opportunity to pay it back, Mr Morton did not order the restitution as he was not confident Degney could cough up the cash.

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