Entrepreneurial squatter takes on role of landlord

AN IPSWICH magistrate has expressed grudging admiration for a teen's entrepreneurial skills - even if they were used for crime.

For about six weeks, Dillion John Major was squatting at a vacant property in Wulkuraka, unbeknownst to the owners.

While he illegally occupied the house, the then 17-year-old began taking on tenants and charging them for rent.

At Ipswich Magistrates Court last week, Major pleaded guilty to charges of trespassing and fraud.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Kerry Allison said the teenager came to the attention of police when officers responded to reports of a fire at the address.

Sgt Allison said Major had originally been invited to live at the residence by a friend and could tell the circumstances were suspicious.

He said Major, now 18, noticed the back window of the house had been smashed but never questioned it - or the fact that he didn't have to pay rent.

When his friend moved out, Major starting offering people rooms for rent for his own profit.

Sgt Allison told the court one tenant was charged $50 to $80 "here and there" while another agreed to $150 a week.

Whenever renters asked who the money was going to, Major would tell them "his friend owned it".

Furniture was moved into the house and Major arranged for the electricity to be put in his name.

Major was believed to have resided at the house from April to May, 2014.

The real owner of the house later told police he did not know the defendant and that the property had been vacant since October 2013.

Defence lawyer Erin Dwyer said her client had no criminal history and was willing to pay restitution.

She told the court Major now resided with his parents, who had been away on holiday during the incident.

Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said she had to give Major some grudging admiration for his entrepreneurial instincts.

"You were not in a position to rent out rooms from someone else's house," she said.

"In the future, I hope you learn to use some of your entrepreneurial skills for lawful money-making activities."

Major was put on a good behaviour bond of $1000 for nine months.

No convictions were recorded.