Intellectually disabled teen sentenced to care facility after crime spree

By Imran Ali -
The 17-year-old, who was granted permanent name suppression, was sentenced to a specialist care facility for three years.
The 17-year-old, who was granted permanent name suppression, was sentenced to a specialist care facility for three years.

An intellectually disabled Whangarei teenager who admitted committing a string of burglaries, including breaking into a newly-wed couple's vehicle and stealing their wedding gifts, has been sentenced to a specialist care facility for three years.

The 17-year-old was granted permanent name suppression when he appeared for sentencing via audio visual link in the Whangarei District Court last week.

He pleaded guilty to three additional charges of burglary at sentencing, on top of earlier guilty pleas to five burglary charges, two of theft from cars, and one of aggravated robbery.

His crime spree started with burglaries of residential properties in March. The theft of wedding gifts, gift vouchers, cash, a cellphone and a card holder, related to the teenager smashing a Toyota Highlander's window on March 27.

The youth also broke into a crashed car in central Whangarei and removed more than $5000 worth of items while the vehicle's owner was in hospital recovering from injuries he suffered in the accident.

The lead charge of aggravated robbery was laid after the teenager and an associate grabbed a man in a headlock in an alleyway in central Whangarei, dragged him to the ground, and took an iPhone, driver's licence and wallet containing about $60 cash.

In court, Crown lawyer Justin Wall and defence counsel Wiremu Puriri agreed with reports from health professionals, including a psychologist, that the teenager should be admitted to a care facility. The admission would be under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Person) Act 2003.

Judge Duncan Harvey agreed, saying the prison environment was not suitable for someone who needed treatment for a number of difficulties identified by the psychologist.

He declined to make an order for reparation, saying such a directive would be "empty".

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