An international rugby player who stole 1737 mail items that he was supposed to deliver while working as a postman has been allowed to start a sentence of community detention after he plays a World Cup qualifying match next month.
Cook Islands player Ioane George Ioane, 26, worked for NZ Post as an on-call postman in Flaxmere from June 2012 until November 2012.
After a rise in complaints about lost mail on his round NZ Post searched Ioane's property with his consent and found 990 undelivered items. A further search by police located 747 undelivered items. All items were recovered and returned to their owners.
Ioane pleaded guilty to charges of theft and of opening a postal article that was not addressed to him. He was sentenced in Napier District Court today.
Ioane's lawyer Megan Inwood said he was "a promising rugby player" and a sentence requiring him to wear and electronic monitoring anklet would have a "a very significant impact" on his life and his team.
It would mean he was unable to leave the country to play for Cook Islands and would be unable to play rugby at all to "keep him condition for any future matches".
She said Ioane's offending was "perhaps due to too many obligations in his life". He was a young man of good character, had no previous convictions, and was extremely remorseful, she said.
She asked that he be sentenced to community work.
Crown lawyer Rebecca Guthrie said such a sentence would be "wholly inadequate" and "an insufficient response to the seriousness of the offending".
A significant number of mail items including sympathy cards and wedding invitations were among the many magazines etc that were located at Ioane's house, she said.
Judge Tony Adeane sentenced Ioane to six months community detention and 200 hours community work and ordered him to pay $3000 reparation to NZ Post.
Judge Adeane consented to a request by Inwood that Ioane start the sentence from July 1 to allow him to play for Cook Islands against Fiji in Lautoka, Fiji on June 28.
A win would give Cook Islands direct entry into next year's Rugby World Cup in England.
- The Dominion Post