'Gutless' father burgled daughter's school

By Mark Story of Hawke's Bay Today -
File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A judge has slammed a Hastings father and sent him to prison for the "appalling" burglary of his daughter's school.

Michael Monty Skipper, 22, appeared for sentence before Judge Geoff Rea in Hastings District Court yesterday after earlier admitting breaking into Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Ngati Kahungunu Ki Heretaunga immersion school to steal about $40,000 worth of goods and causing $6000 to $8000 worth of damage.

Skipper, who is a former pupil and has family employed at the Bridge Pa kura, entered the school grounds sometime overnight on November 21 and jemmied open doors to 12 classrooms and suites.

He stole items including computers, laptops, Apple iBooks, hard-drives, modems, speakers and musical equipment.

He then hot-wired a school vehicle found on the premises and loaded it up with the stolen goods.

Judge Rea said the offending, which occurred while Skipper was on prison release conditions, had left the school "completely devastated".

"One can only reflect on the effort that their community made to make sure the school had that equipment.

"You're a former student yourself, your own daughter goes there and close family members are employed at the school ... yet none of that distracted you."

His lawyer, Eric Forster, said the offending would "grate" with most people.

Although some at the kura had lost a year's worth of research, he claimed the offence was not as bad as an intrusion on a residential dwelling, and argued his client had no previous convictions for burglary.

In a statement read in court by defence counsel, Skipper spoke of his unease about meeting with the school: "I can't seem to face them ... I don't know what I'd say to them."

Judge Rea described the incident as "an appalling burglary".

"To see in the probation report that you didn't even have the guts to face the people you did this to, speaks volumes about your character."

Skipper also pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of burglary, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and breach of bail.

In September 2010 he was sentenced to 20 months in jail for aggravated robbery. He was released in April last year.

Judge Rea yesterday sentenced him to three years and nine months in jail, and imposed a minium non-parole period of two years and four months in prison.

No order for reparation was made because there was "no prospect" of Skipper repaying the money.

The kura's principal, Cordry Huata, said the incident has been "very disappointing for us, but we're coping".

"One teacher had all her Masters research lost. His family members here at the school have found it very difficult because they have to face everyone."

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