Car thieves shown ‘mercy’


By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A pair of thieves involved in a mass-car heist have been spared further jail in an act of “mercy” from a County Court of Victoria judge.

Scott Micklewright, 44, of Patterson Lakes, and Kircho Trifunov, 46, of Dandenong, pleaded guilty to the theft of up to $273,000 of cars from a Doncaster car dealership in October 2019.

Three unknown burglars had forced their way into the business overnight, stealing car keys from a safe and nine vehicles.

They included six new Suburus each valued at $35,000, a Ford Territory and two used cars.

Neither man was charged with the burglary, but instead with later moving and concealing the stolen vehicles, sentencing judge Gerard Mullaly noted on 28 September.

All cars were recovered from across Melbourne, the last found in Clayton 12 months later.

Micklewright and Trifunov were arrested by police days after the burglary.

Trifunov was found in one of the stolen Suburus outside Micklewright’s home. He had the key to another of the stolen batch as well as the drugs ‘ice’ and ‘DMT’.

Judge Mullaly announced “merciful” sentences due to the pair’s fragile health as well as their efforts toward self-reform.

Micklewright, who pleaded guilty to nine car thefts, was the more serious offender and the “more troubling” criminal history.

He’d served jail terms and community corrections orders (CCOs) in the past for dishonesty, drug and driving charges – but none as serious as this offending.

However in recent times, Micklewright had a “brush with death” with Covid – which led to a 32-day coma in ICU.

He was afflicted with partial paralysis due to Bell’s Palsy, a head injury as well as significant ‘long Covid’.

Normally, he would be sentenced to jail but his “perilous” health opened up other options, Judge Mullaly noted.

He was on a “solid path to reform” – recently completing a CCO without relapsing into a long-standing drug habit.

“This is a moment to seize”, Judge Mullaly said.

Micklewright’s reform would be put at risk by with further jail. The community was better protected if he rid himself of drugs and crime, the judge noted.

He was jailed for 87 days – already served in pre-sentence remand – with a three-year CCO.

The CCO included supervision, judicial monitoring and 150 hours of unpaid work and treatment for drug addiction and mental health.

Trifunov, who was charged with just four counts of car theft, was afflicted with a “concerning” cardiac illness.

His role in the heist was motivated by money for his escalating drug use. Since then, he had “significantly rehabilitated” from drugs, and found solid work.

Trifunov was sentenced to a 15-month supervised CCO with 50 hours of unpaid work and treatment.