A Boulder gold thief who stole concrete flooring containing nearly $20,000 in gold fragments he processed in his unsuspecting grandmother’s shed will be sentenced tomorrow.
Joshua Luke Cross, 28, was with accomplices when he drove to the Burbanks gold mine in Coolgardie on three separate days in December.
He stayed in the vehicle while his colleagues broke into the gold processing room.
Using a hammer drill, they chipped away at the flooring before driving away with concrete fragments stuffed into backpacks.
Cross then processed the rubble in his grandmother’s shed at a property in South Kalgoorlie before selling the gold to unsuspecting Hannan Street retailer The Prospectors Patch.
Cross yesterday faced Kalgoorlie Magistrate’s Court after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated burglary and three counts of stealing.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Kirsten Addiscott told the court on December 7 Cross drove his accomplices to the gold mine in the early hours of the morning and they used a hammer drill to break up the flooring.
She said the co-offenders swept the fragments into backpacks using a dustpan and brush before making their escape.
They returned twice more on separate days and on one occasion used a vacuum cleaner to suck up the concrete dirt, she said.
Cross returned to the site with an accomplice on December 18, but eagle-eyed employees spotted the vehicle and alerted police.
Police found Cross and his accomplice driving away from the site in a car that had number plates covered with tape.
There was a balaclava on the passenger’s seat as well as tools used to chip away at the flooring.
Police raided the South Kalgoorlie property later that day, and found in the shed two magnets and an immersible pump stolen from the mine.
They also found receipts for gold sold to the Hannan Street retailer amounting to about $19,000. There is no suggestion The Prospectors Patch did anything unlawful.
An oral pre-sentence report read to the court said Cross had a criminal history and a poor record of complying with past court orders.
Defence lawyer Kim Samiotis said Cross suffered severe memory loss from exposure to mercury.
She said Cross had been processing gold at the makeshift plant for a prospecting friend and his exposure to mercury had poisoned him and left him with “impaired cognition”.
Ms Samiotis said Cross had given all the cash from the gold sales to his colleagues and his only benefit from the offence was some tools they had passed on to him.
Sen. Const. Addiscott said Cross had engaged in the entire process and an immediate term of imprisonment would be appropriate.
Confusion over a claim that Cross offered to assist police meant Magistrate Adam Hills-Wright delayed sentencing until tomorrow.