Brittany Keogh is a reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Navy sailor found guilty of theft and wilful damage, sentenced to 28 days detention

Mitchell Jason Campbell. Photo / NZME
Mitchell Jason Campbell. Photo / NZME

A Royal New Zealand Navy sailor found guilty of theft and wilful damage after he drunkenly broke into a US Navy house has been sentenced to 28 days detention.

Combat systems specialist Mitchell Jason Campbell, 23, drank 24 beers and broke into a US Navy house while stationed at Pearl Harbor. He took a wallet, compass and sharpening stone belonging to the 15-year-old son of a US naval officer during the July 1 incident.

Three military members found him guilty of theft and wilful damage but not guilty of burglary at a trial by court martial at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland which ended today.

Judge Hemi Taumaunu told Campbell he "made an unfortunate lapse of judgment fuelled by an excessive amount of alcohol".

It was likely Campbell would not have committed the offences if he had been sober, the judge said.

Campbell would be able to stay in the military.

The judge also recommended Campbell write two letters of apology - one to the victim and the other to the chief of navy.

Campbell will serve his sentence at a correctional establishment at Burnham Military Camp.

Campbell would have the chance to make up for what he had done by staying in the navy, the judge said.

Defence counsel Todd Simmonds argued detention was a more appropriate sentence than imprisonment, citing a lack of aggravating factors, Campbell's lack of previous convictions, good prior service history and youth.

He said Campbell was a "fundamentally a good young man" who "lowered his standards" the night of the incident.

A fine, along with a severe reprimand, "would adequately reflect the nature of his offending," Simmonds argued.

Being found guilty of theft and wilful damage by senior navy members was a "significant burden" for him to bear and a punishment in itself.

Campbell wanted to remain in the navy, Simmonds said.

Simmonds asked the judge: "Please don't crush him" with a dismissal.

The crown did not request that Campbell pay compensation to the victim.

- NZ Herald

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