LOW BLOW: Dean Lillyman contemplates how low people can be after thieves stole bottles and cans from outside Driftwood Cafe.
LOW BLOW: Dean Lillyman contemplates how low people can be after thieves stole bottles and cans from outside Driftwood Cafe. Brian Cassidy

Jobless dad's heartbreak as he tries to support family

AN UNEMPLOYED Bundaberg father who was trying to make ends meet is devastated after thieves helped themselves at the Elliott Heads cafe.

Dean Lillyman recently lost his job and was finding it hard to scrape money together to send his seven children back to school.

Living on the coast at Elliott Heads, Mr Lillyman and fiancee Lana Roser said they couldn't afford the children's bus passes and knew something had to be done. They came up with the idea to collect refundable containers at the local cafe.

Driftwood cafe owner Jess Higgins was happy to help the struggling family and said with only two recycling bins in the area their idea was more than welcome.

"When the scheme first came out there was problem - I had a battle keeping people out of my rubbish bins,” Miss Higgins said.

"I even had people during the cafe lunch-rush tipping out the entire green bins looking for bottles and cans.

"First of all, it's disgusting and second, it's not their property and thirdly, they left a mess and tourists don't need to see that.”

On Friday, Mr Lillyman bought three sturdy blue barrels for beach and cafe-goers to place refundable containers inside. His children had decorated the barrels to draw attention to them.

It was the Australia Day long-weekend and Elliott Heads caravan park and beach was full of locals and tourists.

Miss Higgins said the system was working as the barrel was a quarter full before she found out that people had been going through the new barrels and taking the bottles. But it wasn't until Tuesday when they realised that not only had the containers been taken, but one of the blue barrels was missing.

"It was really heartbreaking to see,” Miss Higgins said.

The police have been notified of the theft. Mr Lillyman suspected it was teenagers.

"I had a cleaning job over Christmas, but it's quiet now and I need to set an example for my children and do what I can,” he said.

"It's sad to say, but there are people out there that are struggling. This is why good examples need to start at home. If people can do this (steal the barrel), next they may steal people's belonging from their homes.”

Mr Lillyman said times were tough and he had now borrowed a chain to secure the remaining two bins. Anyone with information about the missing bright blue barrel can phone Mr Lillyman on 0413247113.