Prisoner gets $350 for extra day

By Kelli Hooks -
Darryl Connor admits breaching a protection order and receiving stolen property. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age
Darryl Connor admits breaching a protection order and receiving stolen property. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age

A man sentenced to two months in prison begged a judge to keep him locked up for an extra day so he could pocket a $350 Winz grant.

In the Masterton District Court this week, Darryl Leonard Connor, 37, pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching a protection order and one of receiving stolen property.

Judge Tom Broadmore had decided to sentence Connor to two months' jail but changed his mind after a plea from Connor to impose an extra day, making him eligible for a Work and Income Steps to Freedom grant, at taxpayers' expense.

Defence lawyer Virginia Pearson said Connor wanted to be eligible for the Steps to Freedom programme. "Mr Connor instructs that if Your Honour could impose a sentence of two months and one day he is wanting to do the Steps programme," Pearson said.

Inmates who have been in prison for more than 31 days are eligible, on release, for the $350 grant.

Despite being sentenced to two months and one day, Connor will serve only half of that.

Offenders serving prison sentences of two years or less are released automatically after serving half of their sentence, meaning Connor needed the extra day to receive the grant.

A Department of Corrections spokesman said the Steps to Freedom grant gave released prisoners money to help them through their first week of freedom.

"Just to cover the first week of rent and food, things like that."

Pearson said Connor's protection order breaches against his former partner were, in her view, "relatively low-level".

She said Connor had a place to stay on release and would comply with release conditions.

Prosecutor Sergeant Garry Wilson said he did not agree that the breaches were low-level.

"The breaches are very real and very disturbing for her, the complainant.

"She went to the lengths of moving to Tauranga to get away from the defendant."

The judge agreed: "I think a lot of people that come before me, like you, have no idea of the impact of looks and gestures on people that are in a vulnerable state.

"You might not think it's serious. In my view it is, and that's why I'm sentencing you [to jail] and I want you to think about it while you're inside."

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