Judge impressed by turnaround
Lance Larsen has put his tagging days behind him and is hunting for a job after being discharged without conviction on more than 100 tagging and burglary charges.
Twelve months ago Larsen was tagging fences, bus shelters, bridges, buildings - even a Hamilton Presbyterian Church.
But he was caught and arrested by Hamilton police graffiti liaison officer Craig Berquist, who reckoned he could help Larsen turn his life around.
And he has.
Yesterday, appearing for sentence in the Hamilton District Court on 101 tagging and three burglary charges, Judge Marshall discharged him without conviction.
Larsen had successfully completed 225 hours' community work with Hamilton City Council's Tagbusters team, cycling every day, only missing one day due to being sick.
"At first blush, this was extensive offending that affected many people in the community," Judge Marshall said. "The officer in charge [Mr Berquist] seemed to recognise in you that you have potential . . . you demonstrated remorse and a positive attitude . . . your efforts were outstanding when you were part of that Tagbusters team."
Afterwards, Larsen said the result was a weight off his shoulders and he was determined to find himself a job.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Steve Bell also labelled Larsen's efforts as "outstanding".
"I'm extremely happy that Lance was able to have the opportunity to correct his ways and I hope that he has learnt just what a nuisance tagging is . . ."
As for Larsen's remarkable turnaround, Mr Berquist agreed it was rare to see someone entrenched in criminal behaviour to have the drive and determination to change.
"It's a rarity and ultimately for that to happen it has to come from that person. They have to want to change their lives . . . it ultimately came down to Lance having the right attitude and wanting to do that."
Larsen was ordered to pay $400 reparation at $20 a week due to damage caused during a burglary.