When the courts order an offender to pay a victim reparation, you'd think they'd be forced to do it. But journalist Kelly Makiha has discovered there is more than half a million dollars of unpaid reparation ordered by judges in Rotorua owed to victims. She reveals the figures and talks to theft victim and former drag car champion Robbie Ward about how he's eagerly awaiting his reparation payments.
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Rotorua criminals are thumbing their noses at court orders with more than half a million dollars worth of reparation overdue to victims.
During the 2018 to 2019 financial year, there was more than $2.4 million in reparation outstanding, of which $533,784 was deemed by the courts to be overdue.
The amount outstanding is the highest amount that has been ordered from the Rotorua District Court in five years.
The figures were released to the Rotorua Daily Post by the Ministry of Justice following an Official Information Act request.
During the financial year, $32,213 worth of reparation was remitted by local judges and no other penalties were imposed.
The highest single amount owed by an offender who appeared in the Rotorua District Court was imposed on February 8 last year and totalled $192,593.
Nationally, more than $589m in reparation was outstanding, of which $259.7m was deemed by the courts to be overdue.
The Ministry of Justice was unable to comment on what crime had been committed in that case.
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Rotorua man Robbie Ward is still waiting for his reparation payments after a man who ripped him off was ordered to pay him back $29,550.
Kody Mahuika was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court on November 8 after previously pleading guilty to a charge of stealing 59 parts from Ward's business, Rips Racing, valued at $29,550.
Ward, who was a world champion drag car driver, suffered from brain damage following a serious crash while racing. Mahuika, who worked for Ward, would exploit Ward's memory loss to convince him he had done something else with the parts.
Judge Maree Mackenzie ordered Mahuika to pay reparation of $50 a week while he was unemployed, which would be lifted to $100 a week if he got a job.
Along with the reparation order, he was sentenced to six months' community detention with a curfew between 7pm and 7am, 200 hours' community work and nine months' supervision.
Ward, whose reparation amounts aren't included in the 2018 to 2019 figures, told the Rotorua Daily Post he had received two payments of $30 in his bank account not long after sentencing but before the reparation order was to begin, which he assumed Mahuika had voluntarily paid.
He has been told he should get his first official reparation payment on January 20.
Ward said as part of the reparation order he set up a different bank account to keep the reparation payments separate and make it easier to keep track of.
"I did that so I wasn't constantly being reminded of it."
Outdoorsman Headquarters owner Bryan French said there had been 52 convictions for shoplifting from his store last year and in most of those cases reparation was ordered. He said he was yet to receive any money from any of the court orders.
"They just don't pay," French said.
The Ministry of Justice could not comment on specific cases but national service delivery group manager Brett Dooley said collecting reparation and paying it to victims was a priority for the court.
"Any payment made to the court by an offender is allocated first to reparation before any fines, court costs or offender levies that may be owing.
"If the offender does not make payment within 28 days of an order being made, or does not comply with a payment arrangement set at the time of sentencing, the court can take enforcement action in the same way as for non-paid fines. This can include taking money from wages or benefits, taking property and selling it or arresting them."
If an offender has older reparation owing, this must be paid first. Alternatively, if reparation for multiple victims is ordered on the same day, any payment the offender makes is split between them.
Once payments have been received by the court and have cleared, they are forwarded to the victim.