By Andrew Dickens
The sad, strange and depressing tale of Mark Cropp.
Mark Cropp is a lad from Oamaru who was jailed for two years in 2015. He was 17. His crime was pulling a knife on a tourist who pulled out of buying marijuana. The fact was, Mark Cropp had no marijuana to sell but when the tourist twigged, Cropp attacked. Bad egg.
The reason he was ripping people off was because his girlfriend was pregnant. He needed money. He was a 17-year-old dad-to-be.
Mark Cropp was sent to prison in Otago. Meanwhile his girlfriend gave birth to a child. A child who is already in state care.
Mark Cropp was fair game for some of the hard men behind bars. He was getting done over. So to escape the bullying he made a statement. Getting drunk on homebrew he got his cellmate to spend a night tattooing half his face with the word Devest8. It's his street name. The tattoo covers his face like a beard. It's very, very confronting. There's nothing aesthetic about it. It's an affront.
Now 19 and out of jail he wants to go straight, get a job, get his child back from state care and look after his girlfriend. Good on him. But no one is giving him a job. It's that tattoo. So he's gone public on a job-seeking Facebook page asking for work. He's sick of being on the dole and living in emergency accomodation. He lives in an Auckland campground.
So the question is, would or should an employer employ him with this god-awful tattoo on his face? Why not? We all make mistakes. He's young. He has the ability to turn his life around. He wants to work. So would I employ him?
• 'I just want a job': Face tattoo inked in jail proves a tricky sell for employers
I'm afraid my answer is no. Corrections provide services to remove tattoos. He's been offered the services twice. He turned them down. He says the tattoo is who he is. No mate. It's not. Anyone who can do such violence to his own face is not a fit in society. Just get it removed. You'll never regret it. It's proof he hasn't really moved on.
Mark Cropp has had a life of unbelievable chaos and anarchy and I don't think anyone believes that he's woken up one morning and changed.
But my real concern is that we helped create this messed-up man child. He's been in state care since he was 6. He was kicked out of school aged 11. He says "Part of the reason why I am who I am is that I grew up without my parents, I grew up with drugs and alcohol around, and became a criminal."
We put him into state care to keep him away from those influences and the care we offered failed. We failed. We helped to make the man. The drongo. The damaged goods. The criminal.
Recently a petition was presented to parliament. One hundred former wards of the state gathered in Wellington to call for a full government inquiry into the abuse they suffered while in state care. The sort of abuse Mark Cropp must have suffered.
Mark Cropp is another example of a youngster taken into state care and then further destroyed. The new Ministry for Vulnerable Children has a big job to fix their past failings. Tragically, their first job will be fixing Mark Cropp's child.
Andrew Dickens is currently hosting Early Edition on Newstalk ZB
INTERACTIVE: Slide across to see what Mark Cropp will look like without his face tattoo
Readers respond: Would you employ him?
"Hilary "Why wouldn't you employ this person" Barry came out with this statement and, surprisingly, got it very wrong."
- Craig Jones
"Shows lack of self respect and lack of self control. It's messing with nature. It gives off the wrong message. My pet hate is tattoos on women. Beautiful young women defaced with tattoos. You want a tattoo... put on a temporary one like make up. "
"I would give him a second chance and employ him. No one is perfect and havhe lessons in life. Praying he has learnt from those lessons. Having a up bringing like his, of course is going to set anyone of the rails.
"If he could get rid of the tattoo i feel would be a bonus. He has said he would like to keep it as its part of him, but i feel thats his past and if he wants to move on with life that would be something he needs to change. He could get his nickname tattooed on his arm or back etc but your face is what tells people who you are as a person. Alot of people would feel intimidated and it can only cause more problems for himself.
"All the best with his fresh start in life and i pray he gets his child back."
- Erena Rau
"No, l wouldnt employ him. He looks bad, he is bad, l couldnt get passed the knife thing."
- Tony Gordon
"Due to cancer and radiotherapy treatments, my jaw had to be replaced. (my fault cos I smoked)
"The initial healing left me with a deformity where my lower face was disfigured (since had plastic surgery to 'straighten' it out)
"Point is - I applied for several teaching jobs and was very grateful when I was accepted for one. I did have to explain to the kids all the gruesome details (which they loved).
"I have got used to people staring at my face (not my eyes) and am immune to it now
"Give this guy a chance !!!"
- Rob Collinge
"He doesn't want a job that badly if he's not going to take the help (tattoo removal) offered twice... Why do you think Corrections offer that help? Because they know it's his best chance of getting into the workforce and being given that second chance. By the way. ..Ever heard of concealer cream, try Thin Lizzy!
"Sadly his child is now in state care, the same state care that served him so well."
- Katherine Smith