Russian orphan gets home detention

18:42, Oct 24 2012
Andrej Michael Schwaab
TROUBLED PAST: Andrej Schwaab photographed in Nelson in 2010.

"We've got the boy out of prison, now we need to get prison out of the boy," says Christchurch mother Sue Freeman.

She knows she and adopted son Andrej Michael Schwaab face a tough year.

Schwaab, 19, was yesterday sentenced to one year's home detention, with psychological therapy for the attachment disorder arising from his deprivation in a Russian orphanage during his first two years of life.

Sue Freeman worries for her son, who she describes as a 'very damaged young man'.
MOTHER'S LOVE: Sue Freeman worries for her son, who she describes as a "very damaged young man".

The sentence came after he pleaded guilty to stealing cars when he was on parole last year following a spate of similar crimes in 2010. He had been recalled to prison for the breach of parole.

The sentencing at Christchurch District Court came as a major relief for Freeman.

It meant the end of a crucial week looking after Schwaab on her own, with only a curfew to keep him in check.


Andrej Schwaab
HARD ROAD AHEAD: Sue Freeman and her brother Greg, left, welcome Andrej Schwaab home. Freeman says the home detention given to her adopted son comes as a huge relief.

The judge had been unable to sentence him earlier, and the law prevented him from sentencing Schwaab to home detention while he was still in prison. If Schwaab had reoffended during that week, it was likely he would land himself back in jail.

Freeman was pleased her son could continue therapy and socialise with normal people.

"It's a good outcome for Andrej. We got a judge who understood. I'm under no illusions it will be hard, but a year at home is better than a year in prison, " she said.

Judge Philip Moran said Schwaab's psychological damage was severe and ongoing, but the disorder was hard to treat. He needed therapy in strictly controlled conditions.

Yesterday Schwaab admitted charges of receiving, taking a car, arson of the car, burglary, and breach of his prison release conditions.

He was on parole after a car-stealing rampage in 2010, which resulted in him being arrested at gunpoint and jailed for two years and three months.

On November 17 last year, Schwaab received two pairs of stolen binoculars and sold them. On November 29 he stole a car, drove it around, then took it to a rural area where he set fire to it. Later the same day he broke into a house and took a laptop and some alcohol.

The loss to the owner of the car and contents was about $9000.

After this further offending, he was recalled to prison to finish his earlier sentence.

Moran said Schwaab had 16 previous convictions, and Youth Court matters, since November 2008, and counselling and treatment had not been successful so far.

Schwaab spent two years of emotional and psychological deprivation in a Russian orphanage before being adopted.

He lived in Germany for five years and came to New Zealand when he was seven, but went back to Germany to live with his father at 13. When they had problems, he came back to New Zealand when he was 14.

Judge Moran said from that time on Schwaab was in trouble, mostly for stealing cars, and enjoyed the reputation of being the leading youth car thief in Christchurch

The Press