Leader's son 'off the rails'

The son of one of New Zealand's most prominent leaders will today front up to court to face charges of burglary and theft - behaviour that has devastated his father.

In an exclusive interview with Fairfax ahead of the appearance in the Auckland District Court, the 18-year-old's father was visibly disappointed as he spoke of hoping his son would get back on the right track.

His lawyer, Paul Wicks, said that he would this morning seek name suppression - a move Fairfax will fight to prevent given his father wants his son to publicly apologise as part of any punishment.

A court may only grant name suppression to a person charged with an offence when publication of the name is likely to cause that person "extreme hardship".

The 18-year-old is charged with three other men of breaking into an East Coast property and taking some surfboards early this year.

Wicks indicated a guilty plea would be made to those charges today.

It's not the first time the teenager has been in trouble with the law and that was why his father had taken the unusual move in requesting an interview in an attempt to publicly shame his son into changing his ways.

His son was also there to explain his actions.

"I just think of all of the things we are trying to achieve and what he just did was . . . it really hurt," his father said.

The four offenders - including his son - were taken into custody by police on the night of the incident and he called his father the following day.

His father was angered by the news and although his first reaction was to shield him from the consequences, he recognised his son had to be responsible for his actions.

"As a father I still love him," he said. "I'll do anything for my children."

He was visibly upset as he sat by his son for the interview and spoke of the pain his family had been through.

The son - who spoke only briefly - said he realised what he had done was wrong at the time but it was too late by then and he would have to suffer the consequences. He apologised to his father for the embarrassment he had caused.

The family said they would accept whatever sentence was handed down by the courts but they had also put in place their own strategy for the four men involved to seek redemption.

It included a face-to-face meeting with the victims and formal apology, community work, volunteering their time to mentor school children and a donation.

The teen's father said he wanted his children to have a normal childhood and get a good start in life.

"I just let them live their life, go to school and do everything that a normal child does," he said.

His son had gone "off the rails" but there was still time to redeem himself. He promised to support his son but said he could not live his life for him.

"I think he has learnt his lesson. I think he knows what he has put me through now. I know he won't be doing anything else."

Waikato Times