Repeat burglar avoids jail term
A cancer diagnosis and a long jail term for a conviction that was overturned on appeal have led to a home detention sentence for a repeat burglar and thief.
Jamieson Guile Witehira, 29, told his lawyer Tony Greig that after having surgery and chemotherapy he wanted to live a positive life.
Before his cancer diagnosis in February, Witehira had clocked up a long list of offences for which he faced sentence in the Christchurch District Court today.
That followed a series of prison terms in recent years. Greig said Witehira's lifestyle had consisted of visits to shopping centres to steal whatever he could easily get.
Questioned by Judge Robert Murfitt, Greig described how Witehira had been found guilty and jailed for an aggravated robbery charge that was eventually overturned on appeal when he had already served 13 months in prison.
Witehira faced sentencing today after pleading guilty to five burglaries and eight petrol drive-off thefts, drink-driving, thefts from a supermarket and hardware store in Blenheim, receiving stolen property, and thefts.
Judge Murfitt said that before he heard more detail about Witehira's life he was considering a jail term of three or four years.
But he took into account the man's health, his jail term where the conviction was later overturned, and the nine months he had already spent on electronically monitored bail while on remand.
He imposed a one-year home detention sentence, disqualified him from driving for six months, and directed that he take psychological counselling as directed by his probation officer.
He will also have to pay $9336 reparations for the offending, at a rate of $40 a week which will be deducted from his benefit.