A man who got out of a burglary and methamphetamine crime ring before police swooped has managed to escape a jail sentence as well.
Russell Matamua Lush, 31 - one of the last burglars to be sentenced after police's Operation Wigram bust - was credited by the judge for leaving the group after a month.
The huge crime ring caused losses of more than $800,000.
Lush was convicted of seven burglaries, one attempted burglary with a disguise, two charges of receiving stolen property, and one charge of participating in an organised criminal group.
Judge Stephen O'Driscoll told Lush at the Christchurch District Court sentencing yesterday that many people in his position might have found it difficult to extract themselves from the organisation.
O'Driscoll said the crime group was a significant commercial burglary ring, which did 40 burglaries over four months, with losses of more than $800,000, he said. The crime ring was broken with police raids in July 2012.
The head of the burglary group, Harold William McDonald, 45, had been sentenced to 10 years jail, but he also had also faced methamphetamine charges.
His son, Riki William Wellington, 23,received a four-and-a-half year sentence for 27 commercial burglaries.
Lush was in the group from January 16 to February 10, 2012.
He was not involved in the methamphetamine dealing, but did go along with some of the burglaries.
Defence counsel Norman Farquhar said Lush found a way out, now had a job and his employer was aware of the offending. Lush was remorseful and had offered to pay reparation.
O'Driscoll said it was proper to distinguish between him and his co-offenders. The others were more heavily involved in the burglary ring, some had more serious charges including some relating to methamphetamine, and had extensive previous convictions.
Losing his employment might put Lush on the wrong path, O'Driscoll said.
He sentenced Lush to five months' community detention, with a curfew from 9pm to 6am, 300 hours community work, and ordered reparation payments of $13,000 to the victims.
Some people who received the goods are still awaiting sentencing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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