Jail term 'warning to hotel thieves'

By Jill Nicholas, news@dailypost.co.nz

2 comments
Joseph Michael Stickings was sentenced yesterday for the burglary of the Princes Gate Hotel in January.
Joseph Michael Stickings was sentenced yesterday for the burglary of the Princes Gate Hotel in January.

Rotorua's reputation as a top national and international tourist destination can't afford to be tarnished by those who steal from hotels, a judge has said.

Judge Maree MacKenzie reinforced that in the Rotorua District Court yesterday with a 16-month jail term for Joseph Michael Stickings who burgled the Princes Gate Hotel in January.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to burglary on January 2.

Stickings, 43, was outed on social media when singer Lizzie Marvelly posted CCTV footage of him carrying mirrors and a pot plant stand out of her parents' hotel.

Sentencing Stickings, Judge Mackenzie said when he became aware of the posting he contacted the hotel anonymously, saying the property was in an abandoned Ohinemutu shed. Police found a third mirror in his car.

Judge MacKenzie repeatedly referred to the damage done to Rotorua's reputation by those who steal from hotels and from visitors.

"The Rotorua region relies heavily on international and national tourism and Princes Gate is one of the leading hotels tourists come to in Rotorua, they want to know their property is safe," she said. She later noted tourism was a multi-million dollar industry for the city and the jail term was a deterrent message to those who wanted to "rip-off" the city's hotels.

She said she was surprised a pre-sentence report recommended community detention or community work, especially as Stickings had 26 previous convictions, including 13 for burglary.

She said although the stolen property's monetary value was $1300, it was of huge sentimental value to its owners.

"A mirror with a carved frame was of emotional value to them as it represented a taonga (treasure)," she said.

"This matter has distressed the Princes Gate owners, they were struck by the brazenness of your offending" she told Stickings.

Because of the time the theft occurred there could easily have been a confrontation between Stickings and hotel guests or staff, Judge MacKenzie said.

Sticking's lawyer, Kathy Jackson, said he had gone to the hotel for a date but when he was stood up became bored, "foolishly and naively" stealing the property.

Learning of Sticking's jailing, Princes Gate owner Brett Marvelly said it was fantastic the judge had reinforced how much damage a "stupid decision" could do to the city's visitor industry.

"Good on her [Judge Mackenzie]" he said. "She had made an example of him [Stickings] and emphasised how important our $600 million industry is to all of us."

He said his daughter posting the CCTV footage that led to Sticking's arrest had helped the police and emphasised how violated the burglary made his family feel.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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