Thieving addict avoids jail but on last chance

An addict who went on a crime spree of dishonesty targeting vulnerable Blenheim householders and businesses "needs a reality check" and will go to jail if she re-offends, a judge has warned.

Blenheim woman Joanne Kerr, who is battling a drug and alcohol addiction, narrowly avoided an 15-month jail sentence.

The 31-year-old mother-of-two pleaded guilty at Blenheim District Court to a raft of dishonesty offences including four counts of burglary, two of theft and obtaining a document by deception.

Her offending covered a four-month period between December last year and March, Judge Bruce Davidson said.

The court heard that last December, Kerry stole a chequebook and tried to bank five cheques totalling $10,150.

She went to a pharmacy and presented a stolen prescription but was detected.

The offending escalated when Kerr door-knocked Blenheim householders requesting assistance for her unwell son. While the occupants were distracted Kerr stole wallets, prescription medication and documents.

"The community probation are far from enthusiastic about the prospect of home detention," the judge said. "They believe she will continue to use drugs and home detention would not be a deterrent."

Kerr had failed to turn up for her first drugs assessment and at a second interview she arrived four hours late. There was a prospect she could get a place at St Mark's Addiction Residential Treatment Centre but it would not be until later this year or early next year.

In a pleading letter to the judge, Kerr said jail would be a punishment to her two children and those close to her.

"It is time you got a reality check," the judge told her. "You can't continue to trade on promises. Your time is rapidly running out. Unless you are prepared to put effort in, your cries for help are pointless."

He said the aggravating features of the case were the considerable time period of offending, that she had targeted vulnerable people, and all the victims had suffered some financial loss and significant inconvenience.

These features were mitigated by her plea of guilty.

The judge said he intended a 15-month term of imprisonment. He said he would stop short of jail and impose sentencing on some charges and leave the burglary charges to be sentenced on September 3.

Handing down a three-month period of home detention, the judge said if Kerr re-offended he would come down heavy on her.

"I will come down on you like a tonne of bricks. I will make sure the registrar gets me to come back to sentence you."

Under the terms of the home detention, Kerr must undertake drug and alcohol assessment, treatment and counselling as directed which would continue for six months after the detention ended.

"If you breach the home detention or re-offend you will be going to jail," the judge warned.

The Marlborough Express