Joshua Johnson accused of stealing $65,000 worth of diamond rings from Michael Hill at Charlestown

Newcastle courthouse. AN ACCUSED thief who allegedly stole more than $65,000 worth of diamond rings from Michael Hill at Charlestown traded the jewellery in for ice and $1500 in cash, Newcastle Local Court has heard.

Joshua Johnson, 25, ofGateshead, appeared in court in handcuffs on Friday after he was arrested on Thursday and charged with a raft of offences, includinglarceny greater than $15,000,two counts of intimidation, armed with intent, stealing, armed to avoid apprehension and contravening an apprehended violence order.

He did not enter any pleas, but his barrister, William Hussey, applied for bail, telling Magistrate Robert Stone that Mr Johnson could abide by a curfew, report daily to police and not go near Charlestown Square or Lake Macquarie Fair.

But Mr Stone refused bail, saying the prosecution case was strong and Mr Johnson was likely to receive a custodial sentence if convicted.

“I can’t be satisfied that if I was to release Mr Johnson that he would not continue to commit further offences to feed his addiction,” Mr Stone said.

Mr Johnson allegedly walked into the Michael Hill store at Charlestown Square about 1.25pm on September 24 and started looking in a display cabinet near the entry that contained diamond rings valued at$5000 each.

Police allege that while the three sales staff members were busy, Mr Johnson reached over the display counter into the cabinet and removed two trays containing 32 diamond rings.

Mr Johnson then allegedly ran out of the store into the car park, court documents state.

The entire incident was captured on CCTV footage and several witnesses saw a man running through the shopping centre, police say.

Police were called and allegedly lifted fingerprints from the counter that matched Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson was arrested on Thursday and gave a police interview, during which he allegedly told police he noticed the cabinet was unlocked so he reached over and grabbed the rings.

He allegedly told police he sold the rings for ice and $1500 in cash and that the rings would be melted down.

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