Tank man's $6m rampage

By Katherine Danks, AAP


A SYDNEY man accused of stealing an ex-army tank and demolishing a string of mobile phone towers also damaged another tank before his multi-million dollar rampage, a court was told today.

John Robert Patterson, 35, of Dharruk, was formerly refused bail for a second time in Penrith Local Court after allegedly leading police on a bizarre chase through six western Sydney suburbs early on Saturday.

Police say the privately owned Trojan armoured personnel carrier (APC), usually hired out for weddings and monster truck shows, was used to ram seven mobile phone towers and fences.

Outside court, an insurance industry source said the estimated total cost of the damage to the antennas and surrounding property was at least $6 million.

In the charge papers tendered in court, police said Patterson stole the $1 million black ex-British army tank from his former-employer, A-One Lift Truck Services, between 11pm on Friday and 2am on Saturday (AEST).

It's alleged that before stealing the tank from the Minchinbury business, Patterson also damaged a British-made FV432 APC.

The court papers did not specify how the FV432 was damaged.

Police said that after driving the Trojan APC onto the road, Patterson used it to ram an Optus mobile phone antenna in Minchinbury, then drove into a Crown Castle International communications building and parameter fence in the same suburb.

Patterson allegedly then targeted a Telstra communications shelter and fence at Dean Park before using the tank to attack a Hutchinson communications shed and fence at nearby Glendenning.

The court was told that the tank then smashed through a brick wall and took out five traffic bollards at Telstra in Plumpton before ramming a Crown Castle International phone tower in the same suburb.

Patterson then allegdly drove to Emmerton, where the tank knocked down a Crown Castle International building and fence before being used to ram a tower belonging to the same company in Mt Druitt.

The pursuit ended when the tank stalled as Patterson allegedly tried to destroy more property in Dean Park at about 3.30am (AEST).

Former-employer Greg Morris told reporters Patterson had once done telecommunications work for the army and believed mobile phone waves had harmed his mental state.

Patterson has been charged with 15 offences, including predatory driving, possession of a prohibited drug and eight counts of malicious damage.

He did not apply for bail, which was formerly refused by magistrate Paul Sloane, who remanded him in custody to the same court via audio-visual link on September 28.


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