Man charged over theft of $25K of watches from Bunbury Forum

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Shannon VerhagenSouth Western Times

CCTV footage, a cut on the accused’s thumb and a muddy pair of shoes are among the evidence put forward by police allegedly connecting a man to a break in at Bunbury Forum where $25,000 worth of watches was stolen.

Brett Anthony O’Rourke last month appeared in Bunbury Magistrates Court via video link from Bunbury Prison facing a string of burglary and driving charges.

Prosecuting Sgt Darren Clifton alleged that at 9.55pm on May 17, Mr O’Rourke used a hammer to smash the doors of the shopping centre, before using it to smash the display window of Angus and Coote jewellers.

The accused then allegedly stole 34 watches, estimated to be worth between $22,000 and $25,000.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Just after midnight, Sgt Clifton said a police officer spotted the accused and followed him into a dead end in Glen Iris, before he allegedly turned around and sped off, leading police on a high speed pursuit, during which he allegedly drove at 145km/h in a 70km/h zone.

Sgt Clifton told the court the accused then crashed into a tree and fled on foot, before being arrested at his home address about 7.30am.

At the time of the arrest, it is alleged Mr O’Rourke had a cut on his left thumb and Sgt Clifton said the man captured in CCTV footage of the burglary had a bandage on the same thumb.

“As he swings the hammer, the bandage falls off and blood can be seen spraying out,” he said.

When police located a bag containing 31 of the allegedly stolen watches under a tree in a nearby bushland area, it is alleged the majority of them were covered in blood.

Magistrate Linda Keane said with the CCTV footage showing a man with a cut on the same thumb, a witness providing a partial plate and description of the vehicle and the watches being found by police, the circumstantial evidence was “quite compelling.”

Defence lawyer Fiona Walsh said they were awaiting results from a DNA sample of the blood, which would be “crucial” to the case.

“I agree it is a strong circumstantial case,” she said. “But when the DNA comes back it may not be his. Perhaps someone else was driving the car …and my client’s cut on his thumb was just a coincidence.”

Magistrate Keane said if the DNA came back as anyone other than the accused’s it would change the circumstances, but refused bail on the strength of the prosecution’s case.

Mr O’Rourke was remanded in prison to reappear on June 18.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails