'Stay off the booze', judge tells burglar

Last updated 13:00 19/02/2013

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A Nelson man who stole a donation box from the Rising Sun Tavern, and chocolate and fizzy drinks from Nelson Hospital, as well as a swag of other burglaries, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and told to stay off the booze and out of trouble.

Errol Patio Blandford, 20, unemployed of Nelson, admitted a total of 19 charges in the Nelson District Court yesterday, after initially coming in to be sentenced on two.

The charges included five burglaries of businesses and homes, nine charges of breaking into cars, and five charges of breaching his bail.

In November last year he smashed a window of the Rising Sun Tavern at 5.30am, let himself in and took a Nelson Hospice donation box containing $130 cash, along with four bottles of alcohol valued at $180.

Two days later, he stole 10 chocolate bars and two cans of fizzy drink from Nelson Hospital shop by climbing through the ceiling panel.

He also burgled houses and broke into cars around Nelson over a number of days following these burglaries.

Lawyer John Sandston said a whole "swag" of charges had come in following Blandford's arrest for two original charges, and a lot of those had come as a result of admissions from his client.

Police had suspected he was responsible for other burglaries, and despite Blandford realising they did not have enough evidence to charge him for those burglaries he had freely admitted to them.

"It was through his admissions that they got that evidence. He should get some credit for putting a lot of work to rest and giving the victims the peace of mind in knowing someone was going to be made accountable [for the crimes]."

The crimes were consistent with a man out of control, Mr Sandston said.

Blandford wanted release conditions to make sure he got help for his alcohol and drug addictions.

Judge Phillip Moran said Blandford was "a bit of a handful", and had addictions which were "way out of control".

"Unless you face up you will never be cured. It's a sad thing to say to a man who's only 20 years old."

Blandford needed serious treatment, but in the meantime would need to pay for what he had done.

"Burglary's a bad enough offence, but people's homes - that's really stink."

The public had a right to expect the court to lock Blandford up for a very long time, but Judge Moran said he believed the best thing for Blandford would be to get treatment for his addictions.

"The good news is that you're young, you can be saved from your life of misery and crime."

"Stay off the booze, stay out of trouble. Build up a bit of respect, you will gain some self-respect and some mana."

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It was pointless to order him to pay a $6500 reparation, as he had no hope of paying it, Judge Moran said.

Instead, Judge Moran convicted Blandford and sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, with special release conditions relating to alcohol treatment running for six months following his release.

- The Nelson Mail

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