Pair jailed for brazen burglaries

The County Court of Victoria. Photo: AAP Image/Con Chronis

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A pair of brazen burglars who went on a two-week spree of daylight break-ins across the South East have been jailed.

Jovan Culibrk, 27, was found guilty by a Victorian County Court jury of four burglaries, two attempts, car stealing and other thefts.

His accomplice Matthew Messenger, 28, pleaded guilty to burglary and theft charges as well as three car thefts.

The June 2022 crime spate targeted homes in Narre Warren, Glen Waverley, Springvale South, Lynbrook, Berwick and Blackburn.

It kicked off with Messenger’s $152 petrol drive-off in a stolen ute at a Narre Warren servo on 9 June.

Later the same morning, Culibrk attempted to break into a CCTV-monitored home in Narre Warren.

About 7am, an awoken resident heard a banging noise.

He saw a masked Culibrk using a screwdriver to dislodge the back sliding door from its tracks.

The resident screamed, and Culibrk escaped over a back fence and into the stolen ute with Messenger.

The same day, the pair broke into a Glen Waverley home, stealing jewellery, $8000 cash, a passport, Medicare card and car keys.

They returned hours later to steal the victim’s $36,500 Toyota Camry.

Soon after, the burglars cased a Lynbrook home while in the Camry. They then broke in, opening the garage door and loading jewellery, a phone and a CCTV hard drive into the boot.

They were however later identified on neighbours’ CCTV footage.

Culibrk broke into a home in Berwick the same day, stealing jewellery and designer handbags.

The victim told the court that the break-in instilled fear in her young children who were the first to discover the crime scene.

On 11 June, the pair terrified residents in a Springvale South home. Culibrk tried to force his way in with a crowbar.

After an occupant told them to “f*** off”, Messenger tried to kick in the front door.

The resident armed himself with a kitchen knife and confronted the intruders, who then fled in a vehicle.

In sentencing on 20 February, judge Damian Murphy noted the “major and continuing” impact on the victim who was unable to sleep and stayed up late monitoring his security cameras.

Finally, Culibrk burgled a Blackburn home, stealing $10,000 of jewellery, passports, a will, keys, bank cards and bank account details.

Later $1000 was withdrawn from the victim’s bank account.

The co-accused were arrested on 22 June in the stolen Camry at Culibrk’s mother’s house. Messenger was found with a prohibited Taser in his shorts pocket.

A stolen Toyota HiAce van with stolen plates was also found at the property. Some of the items stolen from the burglaries were recovered at the scene.

The Narre Warren-raised Culibrk’s rehabilitative prospects were rated as “fair”, according to Judge Murphy.

At the time of the crime spree, Culibrk was on bail.

He had a long history of committing burglaries, thefts, drug trafficking and driving offences. In the past, he’d re-offended while on a community corrections order and a drug treatment order.

And his not-guilty plea showed a lack of insight and remorse, Judge Murphy said.

On the other hand, during his latest remand, he’d completed a rehabilitation course and passed clean drug screenings.

Judge Murphy said the WA-raised Messenger was entitled to “significant leniency”, with no prior convictions, a significant work history and an albeit late guilty plea.

He’d shown remorse, shame and embarrassment over his crimes, and a desire to engage in psych therapy for anxiety and PTSD, the judge noted.

On the other hand, Messenger is currently bailed over three outstanding burglaries and thefts at factories and warehouses.

Culibrk was jailed for up to five-and-a-half years, with a three-year and three-month non-parole period. His term includes 607 days in pre-sentence remand.

Messenger was jailed for up to three years and two months. He’ll be eligible for parole in 21 months.