December 12th, 2007
Collingwood man Richard John Lovett (more recently of Bundoora) burgled he whom the press are carefully describing as ‘disgraced millionaire businessman’ Steve Vizard’s then Toorak mansion while Steve and the kids were at home slumbering. You may recall that little Stephanie V. woke up to find him rifling through her things, in her bedroom. Security cameras at the disgraced white collar feller’s lair had Lovett and a mate in the mansion for 40 minutes. Remarkably, after the altercation outside with Stephanie’s dad, that same evening Mr Lovett went on to burgle another house nearby. Then, in Collingwood the following day, he stabbed a man in the back, puncturing his lung, in the course of the Harmworth St liberation of a backpack, clothing, and a gold necklace in a street robbery graced by a 20cm long blade.
Harmsworth St and its environs, tucked up near the corner of Johnston and Hoddle Sts is definitely the spot to get stabbed. It runs into Perry St, locus of the yellow racer murder. Housing Commission territory.
Mr Lovett is an aboriginal father of four who has been a drug addict for the last 15 years, since he was 14. He was intoxicated by ice at the time of the Vizard burglary. He pleaded guilty just the other day.
County Court judge Barnett said discrimination prevented Aborigines getting work and there was no access to culturally-sensitive counselling. “Unfortunately for some Aborigines the sort of opportunities that are offered to them are something that in my mind are meaningless.” According to the Hun, his Honour ‘blasted treatment of repeat Aboriginal offenders and said the community had no sympathy or understanding of the problem. He said the man who robbed Steve Vizard’s Toorak mansion had little chance of rehabilitation because Aborigines were treated with misery and neglect. “We are putting them on shelves, we are warehousing them, we are not getting them back into the community and the community doesn’t seem to offer a solution”.
‘Defence counsel John Desmond said Lovett was institutionalised from the age of eight in state homes, youth training centres and prison.
He was abandoned by his abusive mother when he was 13, had no secondary school education and was a long-term drug user. Judge John Barnett said there were various facilities where he could simply “warehouse” Lovett, but traditional approaches were not working.
“It’s a case of Europeans saying, ‘do this, do that’, but they don’t listen, they don’t trust (them). It’s not Aborigines saying, ‘there’s a better way’,” he said.
Judge Barnett said the wider community did not offer solutions, just “neglect and misery”, and had “no sympathy or understanding of the real issues”.
“The world is full of deaf ears but the problem doesn’t go away, the problems keep coming back before the courts,” he said.
Prosecutor Ray Gibson said Lovett’s background was tragic and there was an obvious gulf between the life of a Melbourne Girls’ Grammar student (Stephanie Vizard) and Lovett.’
Mr Lovett’s accomplice, Eric Mark Lawson, drove the getaway car — an Alfa Romeo. He went in for a 6 year holiday courtesy of the Crown last month for an 11-week crime spree. Mr Lovett will be sentenced this week. It will be interesting to see how it compares with Mr Vizard’s $390,000 fine.