Man admits $1m crime rampage

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:32 02/11/2012

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A man with mental health issues has admitted a $1 million crime spree across Marlborough, Nelson and the West Coast.

Adam Power Wahanui, 48, burgled properties and set some on fire in a rampage from April 24 to May 31.

Wahanui told police when he was arrested in Christchurch he was relieved to be caught.

Damage from five arsons, and damage and losses from the 12 burglaries which Wahanui admitted in Christchurch District Court today totalled nearly $1 million, and he also admitted taking two cars worth $50,000.

He also pleaded guilty to attempted burglaries, dishonestly using documents, and unlawful possession of a rifle.

A total of 23 guilty pleas were entered.

Defence counsel Trudi Aickin asked for him to be remanded to the Hamilton District Court for sentence on December 19, because he came from that area and it would allow him to be closer to his partner and family.

She said the forensic psychiatric nurse confirmed that he had been finding his time in custody in Christchurch stressful because of his isolation and it had been affecting his health. Wahanui had mental health issues, she said.

Judge Gary MacAskill accepted the request.

He said it was usual for an offender to be sentenced in the location where the crime had been committed but in this case there were wide-ranging locations for a large number of crimes.

Judge MacAskill asked for a pre-sentence report, to include details from the police about reparations, but no report on his suitability for home detention.

That was not a viable option, he said.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Anna Lloyd said the police did not yet have a final reparation figure, but it would be "significant".

Police said he raided a credit card and fuel card from a safe he stole from the office where he worked as a furniture mover in Christchurch in March. He got cash using the card and set off on his run on April 25.

He failed to return a rental car which was recovered after he ran it off the road in the Marlborough Sounds.

In the Nelson Lakes District he broke into three baches, stealing goods, alcohol, and food. He said he accidentally set fire to bedding at a house he broke into at St Arnaud. It was not insured and there was $15,000 damage from smoke and water.

On May 13, three properties were set alight at Whenuanui Bay on Queen Charlotte Drive in the Sounds. Two holiday homes were destroyed and a garage was damaged. The damage totalled $784,000.

Other properties were burgled in the Sounds before he moved to the West Coast where he took a firearm from another property and broke into properties at Haast.

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A barn was set light, causing $178,000 damage. Wahanui told police the offending began when was "suffering stress at work, smoking dope, drinking, gambling, and using whore houses".

He said: "It was like anger all at once coming out and doing a lot of things wrong, burglaries, and burning buildings, and pinching cars and food and alcohol."

He told police he was "hating it the whole way".

His fingerprints were found at many of the locations and items taken in some of the burglaries were found in a car he was driving when he was caught in Christchurch on May 31.

The car was taken from a holiday home and garage he burgled at Kenepuru.

- The Marlborough Express

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