Patient awaiting surgery stole from nurses

May 17, 2016 | By More

Bicycle-wheel-02Robert John Commons, who is awaiting surgery for a debilitating illness, raided Christchurch Public Hospital where he stole bicycles from two hard-working nurses.

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish noted that one of the nurses, at the end of a 13-hour shift, found her bike gone and had to walk 5km home “in the dark, through this empty city”.

Forty-six-year-old Commons repeatedly raided the bike sheds at Christchurch Boys’ High School during 2015, taking thousands of dollars worth of bicycles.

He reasoned that the parents of the boys whose bikes he stole were likely to have insurance. But there was no insurance on the bikes he stole from the two nurses at the hospital, said Judge Farish.

The nurses had been working very hard, “looking after people who were far sicker than you”, said the judge.

Commons pleaded guilty in January to seven charges of stealing bicycles, one motorcycle, and a helmet, with a total value of more than $10,000. He used the stolen items to get money to buy methamphetamine.

Defence counsel Donald Matthews said Commons had put in some real effort since his arrest to deal with his drug addiction. He was soon facing pre-admission assessment for urgent surgery for a serious illness, which was not detailed at the sentencing hearing.

He had met the two nurses at a restorative justice meeting, which had brought home to him the impact that his offending was having on victims.

Judge Farish noted that Commons’ record showed sprees of offending in 2009, 2012, and again in 2015.

She said: “He is quite self-entitled and self-centred. It is all about him.”

She noted he had a debilitating illness but she said: “A lot of people cope with it without resorting to crime.”

He was now struggling with his health but had managed to stay off drugs. “Perhaps your arrest did bring you to your senses,” she said.

She decided that because of his health difficulties, a jail term would be too onerous for him.

She released him on home detention for 10 months, with six months of additional time under release conditions when he must undertaking treatment and counselling as directed, including a substance abuse programme.

She also ordered $4500 reparations to be paid at $20 a week, for the victims who are out of pocket. It will not include payments to the insurance companies. Ordering the full reparations would have meant payments for about 10 years.

She also told Commons that he would be judicially monitored. She would receive regular reports and if he failed to continue with his rehabilitation and reparation payments, he was likely to go to jail for more than two years.



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