'Rollercoaster' Dougherty gets to go home

After six weeks behind bars, David Dougherty was allowed home to face his alcohol problems.

"I'm going to get on with my life," he said yesterday outside the Palmerston North District Court, where Judge Oke Blaikie sentenced him to 300 hours of community work and nine months of supervision.

In that time, Dougherty must undertake any counselling programmes probation officers deem appropriate.

Before he was remanded in custody in May, Dougherty went on a minor crime spree through Palmerston North.

He burgled a Tremaine Ave house on October 1 last year, stole a wallet from a car on February 2 and two bottles of alcohol from Mini Malbas on May 10.

He was supposed to be sentenced in March for the first two offences, but his lawyer, Simon Hewson, asked for more time so Dougherty could complete drug and alcohol counselling.

But then Dougherty stole the alcohol and turned up drunk for his rescheduled sentencing date.

In 1996, Dougherty was released from jail halfway through a seven-year sentence for raping and abducting a schoolgirl – crimes he did not commit. Five years later he was awarded $868,728.80 in compensation from the government.

Dougherty has more than 70 convictions.

"I don't need to remind you that your life to date has been a rollercoaster ride involving the courts and incarceration," Judge Blaikie told him yesterday. "You will be subjected to pressure from some quarters. Some will not be helpful to you. That's a burden you have to carry with you."

The judge also warned Dougherty that alcohol addiction treatment would not be easy.

Pahiatua dairy farmer Pauline Wheeler, whose wallet Dougherty stole from her car, told the Manawatu Standard how she had come out of the AA and found him stretched across her steering wheel.

"That's when I started swearing, and yelling, and screaming."

Dougherty ran down Broadway with Mrs Wheeler's wallet. Despite having a broken collar bone and bleeding in her eye, she gave chase.

"I caught up with him and at that point he must have realised he was in trouble, so he turned and threw the wallet at me.

"He turned and faced me and he was punching the air. He said, `I'm f...... homeless and I live on the f...... streets and I need some f...... money'."

Mrs Wheeler and another woman chased Dougherty and found him hiding behind a skip, where police caught him.

Manawatu Standard