Crime spree like scene from Hangover

Three young guys go on a massive spending spree, fuelled by drink, fraudulent credit card numbers and an insatiable thirst for living it up.

They hire limos, stay in five-star hotels, drive a golf cart while drunk and — for their finale — run through a plush Hilton hotel even more drunk while wearing balaclavas.

Before they know it, they are arrested and thrown in jail.

Sounds familiar? It could be a scene or two from the comedy smash, The Hangover, but this happened for real when Irishman Michael Hegarty, 27, and two younger men posed as the children of rich parents during their binge on credit cards between October and December last year.

Leading Senior Constable Brandi told Melbourne Magistrates Court this week that before their arrest in Sydney and extradition to Melbourne in January, the group stayed at the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast and later the Hilton Surfers Paradise.

According to a report by the Brisbane Times, they then travelled to Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island, where they damaged a golf buggy while drunk and had to be escorted from the resort.

Hegarty, Laurence Pawlaczyk, 19, and Daniel Pike, 20, lived lavishly in Melbourne, took Qantas flights and ate at the best restaurants during the six-week crime spree, the court heard.

The trio’s crimes — which involved deceptions using credit-card numbers bought online for $9 (€6.50) each — were targeted in an operation by the Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad.

Leading Senior Constable Roy Brandi told the court the men first tested the cards’ viability by making donations to the Red Cross before they defrauded between $30,000 and $35,000.

Pawlaczyk, Pike and Hegarty each pleaded guilty on Monday to multiple deception-related charges and yesterday reappeared in court.

Hegarty’s defence solicitor, Katherine Rolfe, told the magistrate, Lance Martin, she did not want to “make light of the situation, but you may be familiar with the film The Hangover”.

“This is the case of The Hangover gone wrong, and Mr Hegarty has borne the brunt of that,” Ms Rolfe said.

She added that Hegarty’s co-defendants and police agreed he was the “weakest link”, a naive older man whom Pawlaczyk admitted they corrupted and “socially engineered”.

Mr Martin sentenced Pawlaczyk to 103 days’ jail — the time already served on remand — and a 12-month community correction order that included 200 hours of unpaid work.

Pike and Hegarty will be sentenced next week.

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