Burglar told: ‘Open your heart’

September 14, 2017 | By More

A judge has told a burglar who was caught on camera by a householder to “open your heart” ahead of his Christchurch District Court sentencing in November.

Judge Jane Farish suggested that 44-year-old Brendon James Smith should visit the prison chaplain to talk things through while he remains in custody after admitting the burglary.

“I don’t think you are humble enough yet. It is still all about you,” she told him. “I don’t think you have opened your heart enough to be able to change.”

She refused to consider bail for him pending his sentencing, which was delayed today and has now been set for November 2.

“I think you still pose a significant risk in terms of reoffending,” said the judge.

Smith has 70 burglary convictions on his record, and an application has now been made for him to be re-sentenced for five of them as well as a burglary in Avonhead where the woman householder filmed him leaving the property carrying bags of her possessions on June 9.

He was walking to a waiting car, but when the householder told him she had filmed him he dropped the bags. As he was driven away, he said: “I’m sorry. I’ve left everything behind. Please forgive us.”

The woman put the video on social media a few days later, and Smith was found a day after that.

Smith had been remanded for sentencing today, but it had to be delayed because the re-sentencing application was filed just before the hearing, and defence counsel Josh Lucas explained that a referral for Smith to go into drug rehabilitation at Odyssey House while on home detention had not yet been arranged.

Smith wanted the rehabilitation and he wanted bail to join his children and partner outside prison.

Judge Farish said: “You had a very good restorative justice meeting with the complainant. I think it’s the first time when you have been confronted by the facts of your offending not just in relation to the complainant, but also in relation to your family.

“I know they have suffered as a result of the publicity in relation to this issue.

“But I am looking at you and looking at whether you are ready to back to Odyssey House,” she said, refusing to release him on bail pending sentencing.

When he pleaded guilty to the Avonhead burglary in July, Smith apologised in court to the victim, his partner, his children, and his elderly parents. Media and social media had had a huge impact, he said. “It has taught me some painful lessons to stop hard drugs and offending.”

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