A Norlane woman has ended up behind bars, and could possibly remain there, for allegedly stealing a $4 pie.
Melanie Gates, 57, appeared before the Geelong Magistrates Court on Wednesday on charges of theft and breaching conditions of her bail.
The court heard Ms Gates, who is awaiting a ruling on her bail application, allegedly entered a petrol station over the long weekend and picked up a $4 pie.
An attendant, who watched as she allegedly opened and began eating the pie, told police they made her coffee “to get her out of the store”.
Ms Gates allegedly then attempted to pay for the pie, the coffee and cigarettes at the store but was told that she could only afford the coffee because her bank card was declining the separate payments.
Ms Gates allegedly started verbally abusing the attendant until they opened the service station doors and let her leave without paying.
She was arrested and taken into custody the next day and has remained there this week, despite two court appearances.
Ms Gates’ defence lawyer, Hillary Russell, told the court on Tuesday and again on Wednesday that she has been placed in “onerous” conditions “for the offence of a pie valued at $4”.
“I remain very concerned based on the proportionality of her remaining incarcerated,” Ms Russell submitted.
“It does seem disproportionate to the offence and I am very concerned for her mental health in such onerous circumstances.”
Given Ms Gates’ prior criminal history, and the ongoing court proceedings, Magistrate Simon Guthrie told Ms Russell that “it isn’t just for a stolen pie … let me reassure you about that”.
The issue before the court were the conditions that Ms Gates could be bailed on, Mr Guthrie explained, given her mental health, her unstable address and the inability to abide by court rules.
“I don’t like where she is at the moment for her health reasons but there has got to be something in place because I am unsatisfied that Ms Gates is going to do anything (to follow court rules),” he said.
Mr Guthrie added that what Ms Gates needs to realise, “and I don’t think the penny has dropped”, is that her offending has increased.
Ms Russell told the court that her firm would conduct a home visit and provide “whatever support we can” to ensure Ms Gates engages with the appropriate services and appears in court in future.
The matter has been stood down so the bail application could be considered by Mr Guthrie further.
Extracted in full from: Melanie Gates: Norlane woman faces court on pie theft allegations | Geelong Advertiser