Jewel thief’s haul earns prison time
A jewel thief who ended up with more than $20,000 worth of gold and jewellery from two stores has been jailed for 21⁄ years.
Graham Aspinall, 25, stole gold from the Walker and Hall shop in Wellington’s Lambton Quay in March last year.
He was chased out of the shop by Wellington’s top-ranked female police officer, superintendent Sandra Manderson, who was shopping there at the time. She threw down her handbag and chased him down the street.
She pursued him to his car, where he pulled what appeared to be a gun on her, and drove off. The gun turned out to be a toy.
Manderson, a judo black belt, said at the time: ‘‘I would have liked to have dragged him out and made the arrest, but I wasn’t going to take the risk with a firearm. If only he didn’t have the firearm, I think I would have got him.’’
Aspinall was later captured while trying to run from police dogs near Porirua Railway Station. He leapt five metres off the railway bridge and broke bones in both his feet. He was unable to appear in court after his initial arrest because he was in Wellington Hospital.
He pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including stealing $15,000 from a Nelson Pascoes, stealing $6000 of gold and jewellery from the Walker and Hall shop, pointing an imitation firearm, dangerous driving, failing to stop, driving while impaired with methamphetamine, theft of a tourist’s luggage from the ferry terminal, shoplifting and two assaults.
In Wellington District Court, Judge Bruce Davidson said it was all part of a six-month period of offending that did not stop when Aspinall was in custody in Rimutaka, where he indecently assaulted another inmate.
The judge said the use of a firearm, even an imitation one, was frightening and Aspinall had been targeting jewellery shops. He also disqualified him from driving, but ordered no reparation.
Aspinall’s lawyer, Megan Paish, said Aspinall had changed since being in prison and was taking courses for drug and alcohol use.
His mental health problems and background had prevented him thinking through the consequences of his actions, she said, but he was making good progress in prison.
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