Janaya Ashby experienced a "spectacular fall from grace" resulting in the theft of 82-year-old Gavin Hayes' car and a raft of other dishonesty charges.
The 17-year-old was yesterday sentenced in the Rotorua District Court by Judge Marie MacKenzie to five months' home detention, which will be served in Wanganui starting today.
The teenager had no previous convictions or dealings with the justice system until last year, when between July 16 and October 9 she committed a series of crimes, including stealing Mr Hayes' car, burglary, trespass, dangerous driving and failing to stop.
She admitted 14 charges in October and has been in custody since.
"She has gone from a standing start to a 100 metre sprint in terms of criminal offending," Judge MacKenzie said.
"I'm curious to know exactly what's made her fall off the rails in such a way. She's had a spectacular fall from grace in a short period of time."
Ashby's lawyer, Wiremu Te Are, told Judge MacKenzie that the offending was the result of "two cans, this size, tasting of lolly water," which, he said, had a dramatic effect on her behaviour.
"You were mixing with bad people, including criminal elements of society," Judge MacKenzie said.
"It's likely what has been driving this offending is a serious problem with alcohol. You have now seen the light and are prepared to become a more co-operative member of society."
Mr Te Are said she had made good use of her time in custody, completing a drug and alcohol course.
"At the start she was fractious and denying a lot of her addictions," Mr Te Are said.
"But with her recognising that in herself she's been able to get behind the reasons she's been using alcohol.
She's a most pleasant person to deal with now ... She knows that if she offends again she will be looking at two years [in prison]."
Ashby was ordered to live with her grandmother in Wanganui and not possess or consume drugs or alcohol. She must also complete a tikanga Maori programme and attend alcohol and drug counselling.
She was convicted and discharged on the driving offences and disqualified from driving for six months.
She must also pay $1100 in reparation to Mr Hayes.
In October The Daily Post reported how Mr Hayes had been targeted by teenagers, who were stealing from him. It led to him being given a new car and more than $4000 raised for him.