Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

SAS soldier found guilty

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

An SAS soldier has been fined $4700 at a court martial in Auckland this afternoon for stealing service property, but can remain in the Army.

Judge Christopher Hodson imposed the sentence at Papakura Military Camp this afternoon.

The 29-year-old, who can not be identified, was found guilty of stealing two JPoint sights and a charging handle for a military rifle, which he had offered for sale at an Auckland gun shop.

He was also found guilty of unlawful possession of 11 thunder flashes which were found in his garage.

The soldier had previously admitted to the court martial at Papakura Military Camp to failing to follow written orders by storing a privately-owned gun in his barracks room, but denied the other allegations.

He was found not guilty of stealing a pistol holder, unlawful possession of Semtex explosive and unlawful possession of live ammunition.

Judge Hodson said had the soldier been convicted of unlawfully possessing the Semtex explosive, he may have been dismissed from service.

Making submissions ahead of the sentencing, the soldier told the court that his life had been "hell" since the allegations.

"I even felt remorse for even joining the Army ... just to be treated like this, in this manner."

As a result he had spent long periods confined to his barracks and was eventually assigned to small central North Island outpost, where he had no job description and took instruction from civilians.

"I was kind of hating life," he said.

"It also made some pretty big gaps between me and my comrades with all the rumours going around without facts to back them up."

Furthermore, it had made it difficult for him to fulfil his parental responsibilities to his child because he did not have a fixed address.

Prosecutor Major Peter Brock said the man should be sentenced to detention and dismissed from service.

"... This unit requires high standards and in this offending [the man] has fallen short of those high standards."

Defence lawyer Melinda Mason said the hardship he had already suffered should be taken into account when imposing sentence.

"He has served his country on a number of occasions and been on tours constantly. He is a person that we should be grateful to have in the Defence Force."

He had previously been described as an "exemplary soldier".

- APNZ

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