Judge hands career crim unusual break
‘‘I don't think he's a bad person. I just think he doesn't know how to get out of what he knows.’’
A judge has given a career criminal the chance to retrain, despite at least 15 stretches in jail.
Judge James Johnston spared Daniel Johnson, of Porirua, his 77th prison sentence – many of which he has served concurrently – partly thanks to an offer of help for him to start a Ma¯ori and Pasifika trade training scholarship at WelTec.
Johnson, 34, whose first theft conviction was when he was 17, admitted he was surprised by the sentence of intensive supervision when he appeared on Wednesday in Porirua District Court.
He had admitted being caught by police while hiding under a bed at a house in Whitby that he was trying to burgle in August.
The judge referred to a Department of Corrections report that said custodial sentences had not been a deterrent for Johnson.
Intensive supervision would allow him to address the causes of his offending, while also offering oversight from probation to reintegrate him into the community.
The judge also took into account the tough circumstances that led to Johnson’s latest burglary. He had not eaten for several days, and had been sleeping rough since leaving Mt Eden Prison with little support.
Outside court, Johnson – who had been in custody since the burglary – said he tended to feel more relaxed in prison than outside, but hoped to enjoy learning towards having a trade.
‘‘You get your breakfast, you get this time to do your workouts, then they lock you up and you get a cup of tea and lunch. And everything’s done for you.
‘‘Out here, you’ve just got all this free space and free time to do whatever you want, whenever you want.
‘‘It takes me a couple of days, maybe even longer sometimes [after being released], to start to feel like other people.’’
His mother said she had been ‘‘praying man, hard’’ for her son’s release. ‘‘All we need is one more chance.’’
Johnson’s victim said she met him for a restorative justice meeting to let him know he was not the only one having a tough time when he burgled her home.
‘‘I don’t think he’s a bad person. I just think he doesn’t know how to get out of what he knows.’’
Johnson apologised to the woman at the meeting, and the pair hugged.
His lawyer, Seth Fraser, thought the outcome ‘‘was sensible, pragmatic, and looks at the bigger picture’’.
‘‘And it is an unusual outcome. I really hope it pays off.’’
The judge sentenced Johnson to 18 months of intensive supervision, cancelled existing fines of $782, and ordered him to do 150 hours of community work.
Porirua resident Daniel Johnson, 34, after being released on November 8. Burglary victim