Theft from neonatal ward brings jail term for teen

February 5, 2014 | By More

Court House-Sept-2013-07A teenager wiped away a tear when she learned that her theft of electronic gear from the Christchurch Women’s Hospital’s neonatal unit had earned her a 20-month jail term.

A home detention sentence would have been allowed for 19-year-old Marama Cynthia Kaa Haika, also known as Hika, but she had no address available.

Her mother withdrew consent for the home detention sentence to be served at her place before an earlier sentencing date and two other suggested addresses have been checked since then. Neither was suitable.

At the time of her offending, she was in a relationship with a Cripps gang member, Sonny Clarke. Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland said the relationship was assessed as “a high risk factor”.

Clarke, 23 and with a bad record, was jailed for two years six months at his sentencing in November. He did not co-operate at the sentencing, refusing to be interviewed by probation for his pre-sentence report and then swearing at the judge when he did not get the shorter jail term he wanted. He had admitted charges of theft, shoplifting, resisting the police, breach of prison release conditions, drink-driving, interfering with a car, and failing to come to court as required on bail.

Haika had admitted charges of theft, unlawfully getting into a stolen car, and assault.

She and Clarke stole laptops, an iPad, and other items from the neonatal ward when they went there to see a friend and her baby. Clarke took the items but Haika knew what was happening because she placed a jacket over them and carried them away in a bag over her shoulder.

The items worth $4090 were sold to strangers in the street or thrown away.

Defence counsel Linda Drummond urged the judge to impose a sentence of community work and supervision, with an order to pay reparation at $50 a week. Haika had been back in employment for a month after being out of a job since August.

She had been photographed by media outside the Court House when she pleaded guilty in October and she had said she was “sorry and ashamed” for her offending. She was a first offender.

The court was told she had been in an unlawfully taken car that had an accident in Kaikoura, and she had joined in an assault by Clarke later that night.

Judge Garland noted that Haika’s mother had withdrawn consent for the home detention sentence to be served at her address. That left imprisonment as the only option, though he granted permission for Haika to apply for home detention during her sentence if a suitable address could be found. In that case, community work would also be imposed.

He ordered her to pay her half share of the reparation of $2045.

Category: Focus

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