Horse trainer pleads guilty to shotgun burglary


By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A successful horse trainer has been convicted of stealing up to eight rifles and shotguns during a Pakenham home burglary.

Daniel Barone, now 44, of Cranbourne South, broke into the home while the family left on a holiday from 20-27 January 2021, County Court sentencing judge Peter Lauritsen said.

The family found a large hole in a gun safe in the shed when they returned.

Missing were a cache of hunting weapons worth about $42,000 as well as a Makita jigsaw power tool and two fishing reels.

During a police raid of Barone’s home, one of the guns, some of the other stolen property as well as ammunition and cannabis were found.

The court heard seven guns – including six of the stolen firearms – were found at co-accused Michael James Jackson’s Cranbourne East home.

Via text message, Barone had negotiated to sell guns and ammunition to Jackson, who was prohibited from having firearms at the time, the court heard.

One of the stolen guns has not been recovered.

Barone pleaded guilty to seven charges, including burglary, theft and theft of a firearm.

Judge Lauritsen noted the New Zealand-born Barone’s only “apparent purpose” to steal the guns was to sell them.

The judge couldn’t find Barone intended to sell them for others to use them for criminal activity, although he’d removed the serial number from one of the guns.

Jackson pleaded guilty to three offences, including being a prohibited person possessing firearms and possessing about 5 grams of methylamphetamine.

Judge Lauritsen could not find that Jackson knew the guns were stolen, but knew he was prohibited from owning the weapons.

Barone had a successful horse-training business, with no prior criminal history.

He had become drug-dependent due to taking Oxycontin painkillers for back and knee injuries in 2020, the court heard.

It led to “self-medicating” with methamphetamine and marijuana, which became the “background” context for his offending, judge Lauritsen said.

While in remand for 62 days, Barone had been seriously assaulted, the judge noted.

Since his release on bail, he’d not committed further offences and had taken part in a drug-user recovery program.

“The profitable use of the time emphasises the path you have taken towards rehabilitation,” Judge Lauritsen said

Jackson, 39, a concreter born in Newcastle NSW and raised in Melbourne, had been bullied at school due to his ‘celebrity’ name, the court heard.

It led him to adopting the moniker Michael James.

Since on CISP bail after his arrest, he’d reportedly stopped using drugs and engaged with Corrections programs.

He’d faced criminal court three times between 2015-’18, but never jailed.

Barone was assessed by Corrections Victoria as a medium risk of reoffending, and Jackson as a high reoffending risk.

The judge noted both men’s genuine remorse, early guilty pleas and “reasonable” rehabilitation prospects.

Barone was put on a two-year supervised community corrections order (CCO) including 300 hours of unpaid work and drug treatment.

Jackson went on a one-year supervised CCO with 100 hours of unpaid work and drug treatment.