Burglar left number plate clue on road

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012

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A well-known burglar made it easy for police to track him down after he crashed his getaway car, knocking off its registration plate while being chased.

In the dock in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday with his arm in a sling, Andrew Patrick Gaffney, 47, was sentenced to 22 months in jail.

He admitted stealing an $800 lawnmower when he burgled Walsh's Appliances at 4am on October 2 last year, falsely reporting that his car had been stolen as a ruse to put police off his trail, and two thefts from Mitre 10 Mega on July 16 and Placemakers on September 28.

Gaffney jemmied open the front doors of Walsh's and put a lawnmower in his Subaru station wagon.

He activated a silent alarm in the store and the security company notified the owner who arrived in time to see Gaffney's car take off and give chase.

Gaffney lost control and collided with a roundabout and a give-way sign and lost the front bumper and registration plate from his car, before driving on.

The store owner pulled out of the chase because of the high speeds that the Subaru was travelling at.

Yesterday, Gaffney's lawyer, Russell Wilson, said his client accepted jail was inevitable but he did want to change his ways.

Judge Behrens said Gaffney, who was to go to trial this week but changed his plea to guilty on Monday, had wasted resources while he conducted a "juggling spree" through the courts with his list of offences.

"The true indication of remorse is to stop offending," the judge said. Probation officer Peter Scott said Gaffney had had major problems for many years but he was very good when on parole, completing alcohol and drug, budgeting and gambling addiction programmes.

But as soon as he was left to his own devices, he reverted to his previous bad habits, Mr Scott said.

The judge increased the sentence by four months for previous offending and gave a "generous" discount of 20 per cent for Gaffney's guilty pleas.

Gaffney was ordered to repay the $799 for the lawnmower and $574.95 for the shoplifting.

The court heard Gaffney already owed $6000 in reparation for previous offending and his car had been confiscated as a result.

Gaffney also lost his driver's licence for 12 months.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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