Jewel thief’s haul earns pri­son time

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SAN­DRA MAN­DER­SON

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.

The two big­gest Plim­mer­ton School fundrais­ers were Carter Sid­well, year 5, and Ge­or­jah Trang­mar, year 8, who handed the money to Motu Matu’u from the Hur­ri­canes.

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