Runaway Masterton man jailed

By Staff Reporter editorial@age.co.nz -
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Jade Harris, 20, was sentenced in Masterton District Court yesterday to seven months imprisonment as the judge cancelled his home detention sentence. PHOTO/THINKSTOCK
Jade Harris, 20, was sentenced in Masterton District Court yesterday to seven months imprisonment as the judge cancelled his home detention sentence. PHOTO/THINKSTOCK

A man who cut off his home detention bracelet in February is blaming the trauma of his "murdered" mother just two weeks earlier.

Jade Harris, 20, was sentenced in Masterton District Court yesterday to seven months imprisonment as the judge cancelled his home detention sentence.

Harris turned himself in to police on Monday having been on the run since February 29, when he cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and left his assigned address.

Harris pleaded guilty to breaching the home detention sentence but his lawyer, Susie Barnes, initially opposed the probation services' application to cancel the initial sentence and replace it with imprisonment.

Ms Barnes said Harris had been complying with his sentence until February, when he "became aware of problems with his accommodation and wanted to transfer to a new address in Nelson".

It was at that time, on February 12, that Harris' mother died in "extremely tragic circumstances", Ms Barnes said, adding that Harris believes she was murdered.

"Mr Harris became extremely concerned for his 16-year-old sister, (considering) the intense emotional circumstances," Ms Barnes.

Ms Barnes asked Judge Patrick Grace to order a psychiatric report "given the trauma he'd been through to determine where his psychological state was at following these very traumatic events".

However, Judge Grace said such a report would take eight weeks to prepare, and indicated he was considering a prison sentence that might finish about the same time, with an early release on parole.

"The other thing that comes into the equation is what happens in the meantime.

"He's taken off his bracelet and there's no suitable bail address," Judge Grace said.

The judge stood the matter down for Harris to consult with his lawyer, and when it was recalled Ms Barnes said Harris would no longer oppose the home detention cancellation.

Judge Grace cancelled the original home detention sentence and replaced it with seven months imprisonment.

He also sentenced Harris to three months imprisonment for the breach involving removing the bracelet, to be served concurrently.

The judge's sentence includes six months post-release conditions.

Nelson police yesterday confirmed they are still investigating the death of Tracey-Anne Harris, 43, in Nelson on February 12.

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