A thief with an "unbelievable" criminal history fleeced a bible chapel and tried to burgle a property while at a friend's funeral, the Invercargill District Court has been told.
Yesterday, Judge Kevin Phillips sentenced Derek John Taylor, 42, to two years and two months' jail for dishonesty crimes committed in Central Otago and Invercargill.
Judge Phillips said that in November 2011, Taylor went to a Queenstown bible chapel and told a man there that his cash card had been swallowed by an ATM and he had to get back to Christchurch where he was a builder.
The man went to a service station and got two fuel vouchers worth $50 for Taylor, who promised to repay him the following day.
Judge Phillips said Taylor had never intended to pay the money back, nor had he intended to go to Christchurch.
On other occasions, Taylor had been attending a friend's funeral when he wandered over to a storage shed and tried to get in through doors and windows; he had stolen a water cylinder and pipes from beside a house, and he had entered the Lakes Leisure Centre in Queenstown and stolen a wallet and $400.
Judge Phillips said Taylor had an unbelievable criminal history that included 21 previous convictions for burglary and 213 other offences, all committed since he was 17 years old.
The only respite the community had got from Taylor's offending was when he was in jail, the judge said.
He questioned whether Taylor even wanted to be a free man.
"I think you find it easier to live in prison... you are becoming institutionalised. I think you see prison as a kind of ticket you have to stamp if you get caught in your occupation as a recidivist thief."
Taylor also owed more than $6200 in reparation to victims of his crimes.
"You will pay all of that," Judge Phillips told him.
- The Southland Times