About 40 per cent of offenders sentenced to community work in Greymouth do not bother turning up, the Greymouth District Court heard last week.
Corrections staff relayed that to Judge Stephen O'Driscoll after he had finished with the last of three Greymouth men who appeared for breaching their community work. All three were told they would be going to jail if they did not complete their hours by the end of next month.
Afterwards, Judge O'Driscoll quizzed Corrections officer Kerry Aston about the uptake of community-based sentences, given what he had heard in court earlier.
Aston said those who appeared were a particularly "hard-core", whereas about 60 per cent of those sentenced to community work complied "at any one time".
"If you turn that figure around, that's 40 per cent non-compliance," the judge replied.
"Hopefully, I've sent a message to that hard core about the need to comply."
Corrections yesterday applied to cancel Michael John Stanley's 140-hour community work sentence, imposed in August 2015, because he had only completed 17 hours.
Stanley, a fisherman from Blaketown, explained that work was the main reason for not working off his hours.
Lawyer Eymard Bradley said Stanley was now focused on completing his sentence, but Stanley interjected and said, "I couldn't even do it if I tried".
Aston said Corrections were unsure if Stanley was at sea as often as he claimed - "I've heard this before".
He suggested a residential bail condition.
"With the condition that next time prison will be imposed," Judge O'Driscoll responded.
Addressing Stanley, the judge said: "If you haven't done it, bring your toothbrush to court as you won't be leaving."
Elden Wereta George Wilson, of Cobden, said he was "pretty sure" he had cut his hours in half since the last time he was breached in October.
Aston confirmed Wilson still had 29.5 hours left uncompleted.
Judge O'Driscoll was not impressed at Wilson not reporting for community work since November, after hearing that a job interview was the reason he failed to appear in court when called earlier yesterday.
"You haven't chipped away at it ... and you're now going to tell me you can't do it because you've got a job?"
The judge ordered Wilson to complete it by next month, noting that he had been breaching since he was sentenced in August 2014.
"If he's got one hour left, he can go to jail," Judge O'Driscoll said.
Christopher Raymond Taylor, of Greymouth, had only completed only 46 hours of a 150-hour community work sentence imposed in November 2015.
Judge O'Driscoll left the jail question hanging when he asked Taylor to explain why.
Taylor said he had worked at an accommodation provider for 30 days straight, and one day off at a time held him back.
"Community work is not an optional extra. It's an order of the court. You can expect imprisonment."
- Greymouth Star