Vandal 'putting things right for the community'

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014

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The "lookout" for a band of thieving vandals who wreaked havoc throughout New Plymouth three months ago has been given a chance to make good the damage.

Sydney Matthew Vedder, 18, has admitted his role in a raft of charges including burglaries, tagging, theft of a car and wilful damage in late May jointly with three others aged 15 and 16.

Vedder appeared in the New Plymouth District Court for sentencing yesterday.

Co-offenders are still being dealt with in the Youth Court.

The group's offending included burgling properties, stealing from cars, vandalising a Housing Corp house and using paint they stole to tag graffiti over 20 properties, cars and bus stops, and getting drunk on stolen alcohol.

On one occasion they found a Subaru with the keys in the ignition and took it for a joy ride to Oakura.

Together they were responsible for a "large amount of dishonesty offending and property damage in the city", the police summary says.

On several evenings in late May they were seen leaving home and walking around the streets searching for suitable houses and vehicles to steal from.

The group later admitted their actions and described how they took turns to spray-paint.

On June 3, Vedder admitted to police what happened. He could not explain why he offended, said he shouldn't have done it and that it was "just stupid".

He admitted being the lookout for all the burglaries and said he was going to whistle if anyone came.

Their actions provoked front page media attention and community outcry in the Marfell area, the summary says.

Vedder's lawyer Turitea Bolstad said Vedder had a clean record before teaming up with the others.

"He had never been in trouble before he got involved with the youths," Bolstad said.

Bolstad said Vedder and his family were grateful for the restorative justice process which enabled him to apologise face-to-face to some of his victims and make things right through paying his share of the reparation.

Police would support this process, she said.

As part of the restorative justice process he agreed to undertake a number of initiatives such as helping victims with odd jobs and speaking to students.

Bolstad handed over a cheque for $1405.50 for her client's share of the reparation along with written confirmation he was attending a YMCA course.

Judge Max Courtney said the spate of offending had attracted a considerable amount of public attention.

However the restorative justice process had been very positive, the judge said, and could be a sufficient penalty in putting things right for the community.

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The judge postponed sentencing until October 23 to allow time for Vedder to complete the RJ outcomes.

Most of the outcomes would be completed by September, the court heard.

- Taranaki Daily News

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