Burglaries done for thrill of it

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Matthew McKenzie, 19, Dylan Christie, 19 and Ethan Poole, 19, in Whangarei District Court yesterday. Photo / John Stone
Matthew McKenzie, 19, Dylan Christie, 19 and Ethan Poole, 19, in Whangarei District Court yesterday. Photo / John Stone

Four young Northland men full of bravado on a burglary spree stealing boats, fishing gear, outboard motors and tools worth nearly $80,000 from coastal properties did it for an adrenaline rush, not because they needed the money or to fuel an addiction.

Robert Samuel Hales, 18.
Robert Samuel Hales, 18.

Those were the comments from Judge Duncan Harvey during sentencing of the teenage quartet in the Whangarei District Court yesterday.

Dylan Christie, 19, Matthew McKenzie, 19, Ethan Poole, 19, and Robert Hales, 18, stood shoulder to shoulder in the dock before a public gallery crammed with their friends and families.

Judge Harvey told the four teens they could consider themselves "extraordinarily lucky" because if it was not for the combination of support from their families and lawyers they would all be going to jail.

Christie admitted 11 charges of burglary and two of theft; Hales 10 charges of burglary and two thefts; McKenzie six charges of burglary and two thefts; and Poole seven charges of burglary, two thefts and three of receiving.

The burglary spree between September and December last year saw properties at Tutukaka, Matapouri, Ngunguru, Ruakaka, Oakura, Taiharuru, Rawhiti and Russell hit. A boat moored in the Bay of Islands was also targeted. Bolt cutters were used to gain entry with game fishing lures and game rods worth $11,700 stolen.

During the Whangarei A and P show at Barge Showgrounds in Maunu all four stole a 50 inch plasma television and stand from one of the commercial tents. They also took $18,673 worth of tools from a container at a building site at Taiharuru. They would sell the items for cash or through Trade Me. They were sentenced to various lengths of home detention but in addition are each to complete 300 hours' community work.

"You were young men full of bravado committing serious offences with no thought to the consequences. It's time for you to learn there are consequences."

While Judge Harvey considered the starting point for all four was jail time, after discounts were given for early guilty pleas, their age and remorse, it reduced all the terms to less than two years' jail, making them all eligible for home detention.

"You targeted very valuable property. This was simply not spur of the moment, but planned and calculated. You were on the prowl looking for things to steal. It is clear when you headed out on expeditions you took with you the tools you needed to break in," Judge Harvey said.

"Essentially you did it for fun, adrenaline and profit with no thought for victims. You were not stealing for need, or to feed an addiction. You were four bored young men enjoying themselves at the expense of others and at the expense of your families, who you have brought shame on."

Defence lawyers Arthur Fairley, Julie Young and Nick Leader said the teens had attended restorative justice conferences, written apology letters and met victims face-to-face to express remorse. They pleaded guilty early and all four, who have jobs, had also made reparation to some of the victims and would eventually pay back the full amount.

"They have done everything possible to make amends for this adolescent stupid behaviour," Mr Fairley said.

Christie was sentenced to 10 months' home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $20,950.47 while Hale was to pay $15,521.50 reparation, sentenced to 10 months' home detention. Poole was ordered to pay $12,799.39 reparation, sentenced to eight months' home detention and McKenzie was to pay $13,283.26 reparation, and sentenced to seven months' home detention.

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