Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

'Particularly mean' thief jailed for stealing from charities

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A drug addict who stole hundreds of dollars from charity donation boxes, including public appeals for poppies and earthquake disaster relief, has been jailed for 18 months.

Heartless thief Jason Peter Rochford, 27, targeted the charity cash to fund his "raging" drug habit.

Today he accepted his sneak thefts were "about as low as you can get" and appealed to the court for help with his addiction.

Judge Raoul Neave sentenced him to 18 months jail at Christchurch District Court for the "particularly mean" crimes, committed between January and May this year.

Rochford, of Addington in Christchurch, earlier pleaded guilty to 13 theft charges which ranged from $50 to $3200 from shops, bakeries, and charities.

Judge Neave said his methods were the same on almost every occasion.

He would go into a store and wait for the opportunity steal a charity box, safe, or cash register, before making off with the money.

In January, he stole a Recovery Canterbury Appeal donation box which had $80 inside it, and in May he took Returned Servicemen's Association's poppy appeal box containing $300.

His biggest theft came when he took $3200 from a safe in a shop at the Palms shopping centre in Christchurch.

A judge had previously told the court Rochford had stolen the money to fund his "raging drug habit".

His lawyer Claire Yardley said: "Mr Rochford knows his offending is very deceitful and is under no illusions how his offending is viewed by the public".

In a letter to the court, he admitted his "shame" over the thefts which Judge Neave said had embarrassed and humiliated his family.

The judge said Rochford had 51 previous dishonesty convictions, and jailed him for 18 months with six months of release conditions.

He added that Rochford could apply to swap his sentence for home detention if space at Odyssey House Trust drugs rehab centre became available.


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