Hospice Shop thief threw cup of tea at grandmother

Michael Brent Charnley, 43, snuck into the office of the Hospice Waikato store in Lake Road, Hamilton, on December 10 ...

Michael Brent Charnley, 43, snuck into the office of the Hospice Waikato store in Lake Road, Hamilton, on December 10 last year.

A man who snuck into a Hospice Waikato shop in Hamilton and stole an employee's personal belongings later threw a cup of tea at his own grandmother.

Michael Brent Charnley, 43, was sentenced to 19 months in jail when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Friday on charges of burglary and assault with a weapon - namely a teacup.

It was some time between 10 and 11am on December 10 last year when Charnley went to the Hospice Waikato retail store and warehouse on Lake Road in Hamilton.

He saw that the roller door leading to the warehouse part of the building was slightly up.

As the police summary of facts described it, Charnley "shimmied under the roller door" and snuck into the office.

There, he grabbed a satchel containing several items, including six compact discs, a digital camera, two wallets, a driver's licence, miscellaneous cards and $40 in cash.

He snuck out, but a short time later entered the retail part of the store, where he browsed the aisles for a time.

On discovery of the theft, the victim arranged for a viewing of CCTV footage of the inside of the building.

Charnley was clearly seen and identified as a regular customer.

Some time later, one of Charnley's relatives found the stolen satchel, still containing the victim's personal belongings, and called the victim.

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Details about the assault on Charnley's 89-year-old grandmother on December 21 at a house in Hamilton were not available. However, Judge Robert Spear referred to the incident during sentencing, saying it was an argument with the older woman that escalated when Charnley threw the contents of a hot cup of tea at her.

At that point, Charnley interrupted, saying it was a cup of coffee and he had not intended to hurt his "nanna".

"Regardless, it was a sorry event," the judge said.

Defence counsel Louis Wilkins emphasised that Charnley had no history of violence, but conceded the assault reflected "a dismal set of affairs for a woman of that age to feel threatened in her own home".

Judge Spear noted that while Charnley might have had no convictions for violence, he did have 65 convictions for dishonesty offences, including 11 burglaries.

In spite of the CCTV footage identifying him, he had initially pleaded not guilty and had only changed his plea to guilty on the day his judge-alone trial was due to begin.

From a starting point of a year's jail, the judge added six months to reflect Charnley's previous convictions, and a further four months to reflect the totality of his offending, including the assault on his grandmother.

That victim was also granted a protection order.

The victim of his burglary had sought $123.20 in reparation, which included the cost of a new Airpoints card and driver's licence.

Because Charnley had no way of paying that reparation, the judge declined to make such an order.

 - Stuff

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