Magistrate slams 'finders keepers' thief who took dying king-hit teen's brother's wallet from A&E

Brothers Patrick (left) and Lucas Cronin. Photo / Facebook
Brothers Patrick (left) and Lucas Cronin. Photo / Facebook

An Australian magistrate has slammed the man who found the wallet of a dying king-hit footballer's brother in the Royal Melbourne Hospital's emergency department and gone on a spree using the cash and credit cards to buy booze and other items.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court was told by Senior Constable Christine Sykes yesterday how Fatih Ozturk found Lucas Cronin's wallet about 3am while the latter was helping his brother, fatally injured teenage footballer Patrick Cronin, who had been king-hit in a brawl at the Windy Mile hotel in Diamond Creek hours earlier on April 16.

Patrick, 19, died in the hospital on April 18.

The day he was struck in the pub fight he had played his first senior game for the Lower Plenty Football Club, lining up at halfback alongside his brother.

Members of the team were conspicuous by their maroon and gold polo shirts at his emotional funeral on April 27.

And, on September 24 brother Lucas posted a moving posthumous birthday greeting to Patrick on Facebook: "For anyone who grew up with a younger brother, you'd know like I do that they're the best friend you can have growing up! Still missing you more and more every day, happy birthday Pat. Catch up for a drink soon! xxx."

Andrew William Lee, 33, has been charged with one count of murder. According to ABC news he had handed himself to the Spencer St police headquarters in Melbourne West and assisted officers with their inquiries.

Sykes told the court yesterday that instead of handing in the wallet, Ozturk had gone on spree, blowing the cash and using the credit cards at a North Melbourne bottle shop, service station, supermarket and convenience store, reported The Age.

Lucas at the time of the theft was at the side of his brother, who had suffered a "significant" head injury, in the emergency department.

Patrick Cronin, 19,  died in the Royal Melbourne Hospital on April 18, two days after he was punched in a brawl at the Windy Mile hotel in Diamond Creek. Photo / Facebook
Patrick Cronin, 19, died in the Royal Melbourne Hospital on April 18, two days after he was punched in a brawl at the Windy Mile hotel in Diamond Creek. Photo / Facebook

According to Melbourne court documents Ozturk, who had been at the hospital with a friend who had broken her arm, told police after his arrest that he took the wallet because: "Free money, finders keepers, ya know."

He also tried to explain the deed by saying he was low on food at the time.

The court documents show Ozturk made 14 transactions, buying groceries, alcohol, cigarettes and jandals. His total spending came to $987.89.

Some deals were caught on CCTV cameras, court documents say, showing him wearing a red T-shirt with the words "Thank You".

Magistrate Peter Dunn told Ozturk: "This is just disgraceful."

Asked to explain why he should not be jailed, Ozturk, who pleaded guilty yesterday to 19 theft and deception charges, answered that he hadn't known at the time whose wallet he had taken, adding also that he had since "cleaned my act up".

He apologised for the thefts.

Dunn ordered an 18-month community corrections order with conditions he undergo drug counselling and perform 300 hours of unpaid work.

- NZ Herald

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