GISBORNE has a “disgraceful” rate of burglary — it is time offenders got the message if they take property that does not belong to them, they will receive significant sentences, says Judge Tony Adeane.
To ram home his point, he held a special session in Gisborne District Court on Friday, with nearly 20 offenders appearing — most on charges of burglary.
He sentenced 14 . . . jailing one for 3 years 9 months, two for 2½ years, two for two years, two for 21 months, one for nine months, one for four months, while others like a woman who had spent four months behind bars on remand received various home detention, community detention, community service and supervisory sentences. Some offenders were remanded to later dates for sentencing.
There was plenty of cursing and banging as offenders were sent down but Judge Adeane said they should not labour under the impression the court was being more heavy-handed than usual.
“These sentences demonstrate the view that for burglary of dwelling houses in Gisborne, a starting point of two years in jail is appropriate.
“The message to burglars is that deterrence should be well to the fore of the court’s mind and you will receive significant sentences,” he said.
“Virtually every offender has a story that could prompt an indulgent response from this court . . . the message today is that is simply not going to happen.”
Darren Ioane , 27, and Darren Lee Tamatea , 23, were involved in a number of high-profile burglaries in March.
The pair were part of a group who went to the Telecom store in Customhouse Street, where they smashed the front window and took $9000-worth of cellphones. Ioane and Tamatea then went to Sequence Surf Shop in Gladstone Road, where they bashed in a front window, removing surf and skate gear valued at $5000.
Ioane was joined by three other offenders when he broke into the Red Cross premises in Palmerston Road and took groceries and electronic items to the value of $4000.
They made off with the organisation’s $6000 van, which days later Ioane and another offender used to smash in the front of Chainsaw and Mower Service — also in Palmerston Road — and steal 14 chainsaws valued at $17,800.
In terms of value, the high-water mark of the series of offences was the removal of the chainsaws but the theft of the van was particularly abhorrent in that it was one used by a charitable organisation to go about its business, Judge Adeane said.
“In terms of the impact on your victims, these crimes had severe consequences . . . this kind of plundering causes great emotional and financial setbacks. Though considerable reparation has been sought, it is clear that neither of you are in a position to pay it.”
As the primary offender, Ioane was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison on five counts of burglary, along with five sundry charges including assault on a female.
“With 38 previous convictions for dishonesty, plus convictions for assault, you now have a criminal history that spreads over seven years and you had been warned that next time you appeared in court, jail would be the only option,” Judge Adeane told him.
Having been convicted of two charges of burglary plus one of driving while disqualified, Tamatea — whose history included convictions for crimes from graffiti to kidnapping — was sentenced to two years and five months in prison.
The offenders had described their victims as “only businesses” — not considering that those businesses represented people trying to make a living or, in the case of the Red Cross, to serve others, the judge added.
“In a community the size of Gisborne, it is artificial to think that the burgling community — for there most certainly is a burgling community — differentiates between commercial and residential targets,” he said.
“Neither of you have made any effort to pay reparation but, through these sentences, you will be held accountable.”
As first-time offenders, three co-defendants Bob Wayne Henare, Sam Tangiwai Leach and Daryl Waru were remanded another month for sentencing.
“You might hope to avoid a trip to Hawke’s Bay (prison) but let’s be clear . . . first-time offenders can and will be held accountable for their actions,” the judge told them.
“All three of you will be expected to get off your backsides, get some work and pay for the damage done in any of the burglaries in which you were involved.”
Past “indulgence” on the court’s part in the hope that first-time offenders would turn their lives around, might have given the impression that it — and the community — was somehow tolerant of the crime of burglary, he said.
“The message is that you are mistaken if you believe that to be the case.”
Burglaries in Gisborne
■ Dwelling burglary has shown a steady increase in Gisborne since 2001, with rates reported to have grown 30 percent over the past 18 months.
■ After Auckland City, Eastern District (Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay) has the second-highest rate of dwelling burglary by population in New Zealand — three times that of Southern and Tasman policing districts and double that of Wellington.
■ The majority of burglaries are committed by a small number of repeat offenders, many of them under the age of 17.
■ There is an active stolen property market in Gisborne, with many burglars stealing to order.
■ In Gisborne, the most stolen items are laptop computers, copper, cash, alcohol, jewellery, iPods and digital cameras.
■ Residential burglaries are more prevalent during the day, especially week days when home owners and residents are away at work.
■ Dwelling burglary also follows seasonal trends, with a significant increase in recorded offences during winter.
Source: Senior Sergeant Lincoln Sycamore, Gisborne police.