A Rotorua grandmother whose nephew stole thousands of dollars worth of sentimental items says she has been left feeling broken after he was released from prison three weeks after he was sentenced.
The nephew said he was sincerely remorseful for his actions, would be doing both rehab and restorative programmes and was on seven months' home detention 24/7 "on lockdown" with a "GPS bracelet".
Trudi Bishop spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post in June when her home was burgled while she was stuck in quarantine after returning from Perth.
Bishop had returned after three and a half months away. She had gone over to visit her sick brother but got stuck in Australia as a result of lockdown.
While she was away, precious jewellery handed down for generations - including antique greenstone, bangles and rings- was stolen from her family home.
Her nephew Jason Collier pleaded guilty to theft excluding dwellings over $1000.
He was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment in November but had been in custody for a short time before his sentence, Bishop said.
However, within three weeks of sentencing, Bishop said Collier's sentence had been replaced with one of home detention.
In a hearing in December, his sentence was changed to 7.5 months' home detention.
Bishop received a letter the day after Collier was released into home detention letting her know about the change, something that "broke me all over again", she told the Rotorua Daily Post.
It had "really upset her", especially as she had not been notified earlier, she said.
She said she had not been totally satisfied with what she says was a "short prison sentence" but she "could cope with it" as she knew he had been put away.
The stress the burglary had caused Bishop had been devastating and she said she woke up almost every night with panic attacks and that was when she did "get a wink of sleep".
"It plays on my mind all the time. I'm up all night, I don't feel safe."
She was relieved police had been able to recover a lot of the stolen goods but a lot was still missing.
"There are special things I'll never be able to get back."
The entire family was "so upset" the nephew "would do that to his own family", Bishop said.
The Rotorua Daily Post spoke to Collier, who said he was on seven months' home detention 24/7 "on lockdown" with a "GPS bracelet". He said he would also be doing both rehab and restorative programmes.
"It's not like I'm out and about living life, it's like I'm still in jail."
The only difference, he said, was that he had different food and a phone.
He said he was "sincerely remorseful" for what he had done.
"I know what I did to my aunty was wrong, let alone dumb."
A Corrections spokesman said Jason Collier had appeared in court by an audiovisual link from prison in December. He had previously been given leave to apply for home detention by the sentencing judge and had made an application to the court.
At this hearing, the judge replaced his prison sentence with a sentence of home detention and the individual was released from prison following this hearing as Corrections was not able to legally hold a person in prison following the decision by the Court.
He said it was Corrections' role to notify the victim of the outcome of the court appearance should it be successful.
"We understand this can be a stressful time for victims and we are committed to treating victims with respect and compassion."
In this instance, he said the victim was called on the day to advise of the immediate release and this was followed up with a letter.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the decision to grant home detention was a judicial one and as this was independent of the ministry, it would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases.
In the 2002 Sentencing Act, an offender who was subject to a short-term sentence of imprisonment and who had leave to apply for cancellation of a sentence of imprisonment and substitution of a sentence of home detention may apply to the court at any time.
A sentence of home detention substituted may be for any period the court thinks fit but must not be fewer than 14 days or more than 12 months.