Judge hands ca­reer crim un­usual break

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JARED NI­COLL

‘‘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.

JARED NI­COLL/STUFF

Porirua res­i­dent Daniel John­son, 34, af­ter be­ing re­leased on Novem­ber 8. Bur­glary vic­tim

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