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Former Hells Angel associate Ben Pegoraro helping girlfriend Rita Toma get back on track, court hears

Ben Pegoraro and Rita Toma at court. Picture: MARK STEWART

Ben Pegoraro and Rita Toma at court. Picture: MARK STEWART Source: News Corp Australia

BAD boy Ben Pegoraro is cutting off his old mates and beginning a new law-abiding life with the woman he loves, a court has heard.

The one-time Hells Angel wannabe, who earlier this year was jailed for his part in ripping off $250,000 of caravans, appeared in court to support his girlfriend, Rita Toma, who was caught at the wheel of a stolen car.

The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard that Pegoraro was now leading his girlfriend along the straight and narrow.

Toma’s lawyer said Pegoraro had been a big support to his troubled girlfriend, who as a small child had come to Australia as an Iraqi refugee.

The lawyer told the court that Toma now lived with Pegoraro and one of his brothers.

“He’s motivated her to turn the corner,” he said.

The court heard that the pair were determined to cut off their old friends and start a new life.

“Both she and her partner are keen to leave that life behind,” the lawyer said.

Toma was arrested after being caught driving a stolen car on Flemington Rd, Carlton, on March 27.

She pleaded guilty to four charges, including negligently dealing with the proceeds of crime and careless driving.

The court heard police observed the learner driver cut across the median strip and mount the gutter while behind the wheel of the stolen Kia.

When intercepted, Toma told police she was unaware the car was stolen and had borrowed it just days earlier from a man called Johnny.

An unlicensed female who was in the passenger seat was later jailed over a separate matter.

The court heard the car had been stolen from a home in Sebastopol on March 8, just days after the owner’s keys disappeared.

Toma’s lawyer told the court his client hadn’t asked where the car had come from and the incident had come as a “real wake-up call”.

Magistrate Franz Holzer said he accepted Pegeraro would help keep his girlfriend out of trouble, telling Toma: “You do have some choices to make. You’re young enough to make amends ... I understand the man next to you is keen to assist.”

He fined Toma $1500 and released her without conviction.