An 18-year-old ex-burglar who avoided jail has been praised by a judge for taking "remarkable" steps to turn his life around.
Liam Jade O'Farrell was sentenced for breaking into five different properties and unlawfully entering an enclosed back yard between May and September of last year when he appeared at Napier District Court earlier this month.
O'Farrell yesterday told Hawke's Bay Today he had "definitely" learnt his lesson.
He completed a course run by the armed services, attended restorative justice, got a job and saved $100 a week to pay reparation.
At his sentencing on July 3, Judge Jonathan Down ordered O'Farrell to complete nine months of home detention and 200 hours of community work but praised him for changing his ways since the offending.
Judge Down said the steps O'Farrell had taken since the burglaries were "remarkable".
"I've never before seen anyone come before the courts having taken so many steps to put right what they have done wrong" he told O'Farrell during sentencing.
O'Farrell attended restorative justice with one of his victims and said it was the worst feeling he had ever had in his life.
"It was probably the most intense part of the whole thing. Seeing someone you've robbed face to face."
He said he was grateful for all the help he was given to turn his life around.
"Everyone sort of came together to help me, I don't know why they picked me. I just got lucky so many people wanted to help me. I had lots of support from my family and my girlfriend too."
O'Farrell didn't make excuses for his offending saying it was a "conscious decision" and he didn't want to blame anyone else for the burglaries.
"It was just me being too lazy to make money properly."
Before his July 3 court appearance, he had admitted the charges which carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
Over the past seven months, O'Farrell had got together over $4500 in reparation from his job and from a trust fund and has another $300 to pay.
He said he does not have a job lined up for when his home detention sentence finishes but will find something closer to the time.
"I'll be staying out of trouble now".
Police said O'Farrell was responsible for the burglaries of five homes in the Napier area last year in which he netted a number of items, including cellphones, medication, televisions, a mountain bike, money and clothing.
Two of the homes belonged to 84-year-old women, one of whom was at home when O'Farrell broke in.
Three of the victims sought reparation to cover insurance excesses, while one, without insurance, sought $499 to cover the cost of replacing her television.
During sentencing, Judge Down took into account a "large degree of remorse" shown by O'Farrell since his offending and his willingness to face up to his victims.
He imposed a sentence of home detention with community work hours but warned O'Farrell the home detention was not an easy way out, saying it would be "restrictive and very difficult".
"Lest anyone in the court thinks I've gone soft".
The officer in charge of the case, Constable Andrew Boyd, said when he first met O'Farrell he saw a young man in need of a bit of help.
"He was a first time offender when I first met him, I thought we needed to put a stop to it pretty quick. I sorted him out to go on a course through WINZ."
Mr Boyd said yesterday he "took his hat off" to O'Farrell for sticking with the course and getting a job when it ended.
"I went out of my way a bit for him, it probably saved him from going to jail in the end.
"I used to go round at 10 or 11 in the morning and have to wake him up but he's kick-started his life now. He was getting up at five in the morning for one of his jobs."
He said the approach he took to O'Farrell's case had been praised by management who would like to see more outcomes like it in future.