A young couple involved in multiple burglaries of people's homes, including those of the woman's parents and repeated raids in which a friend and neighbour was stripped of property worth $15,000 have avoided jail in a unique sentencing in Hastings District Court.
Alex Peter Funnell, 36, and Nicole Elizabeth Oliver, 25, were this week each sentenced to eight months' home detention, with Judge Bridget Mackintosh taking the unusual step of allowing them to serve the penance at home, together.
Appearing in court yesterday, they had each been on a curfew for more than four months since being remanded on bail on May 31, when Funnell pleaded guilty to three charges of burglary and one of receiving stolen property and Oliver admitted four charges of burglary, one representing the multiple raids on her Park Road neighbour in Hastings.
With some property having been recovered and insurance satisfying some of the losses, each was ordered to pay complainants $2535.25, with Judge Mackintosh saying that whatever part each played, including Funnell's disposal of stolen property through pawn shops or second-hand dealers, they were both "in it together" and there should be no distinction between them.
She said Funnell, who also admitted a charge of stealing a pair of woman's knickers and cultivating two cannabis plants, had a small history of minor and unrelated types of offending and Oliver had no previous convictions.
The judge calculated the sentence from a "starting point" of three years' jail, with downward calculations considering early guilty pleas, although some of the offences had initially been denied.
The burglaries started at Oliver's mother's home in Napier in October last year when Oliver was aware her mother was not at home. A ring, cash and other items were stolen.
In March this year she took an electric guitar in similar circumstances and later in March she burgled her father's home near Te Pohue.
Oliver had made several raids on the home of a neighbour who gradually became abused about the number of items missing and told Oliver, who claimed also to have had an item stolen and who said she would keep an eye out for any sign of any offenders.