Leader speaks of pain as son faces charges

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 05/05/2014

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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 the Waikato Times ahead of the appearance in the Auckland 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 he would this morning seek name suppression - a move the Times will fight to prevent given the 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 name is likely to cause that person "extreme hardship". The 18-year-old is charged with three other men of breaking into a property and taking some surfboards at an East Coast property early this year.

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

It's not the first time the teen has been in trouble with the law and that was why his father had taken the unusual step of requesting an interview with the Times in an attempt to 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 the teen 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. 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 but they had also put in place their own strategy for the four men involved, including a face-to-face meeting with the victims and formal apology, community work, volunteering their time to mentor school children and a donation.

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