A man has apologised for stealing musical instruments from an Army Band musician at the Anzac Day dawn service, and told the owner he did it because he was hungry.
Wade Clinton Jeffs, 35, admitted to a judge at his defended hearing that he took the bag containing two cornets and a trumpet worth about $5000 each as he cycled through Cranmer Square.
But he said it was Work and Income’s fault because they cut his benefit and they should be charged, not him.
The owner of the instruments, Kevin Hickman, was giving his evidence about the bag going missing when Jeffs called out, “Sorry about that mate, I was hungry.”
Another prosecution witness said he saw Jeffs bike to the bag in the square, grab it, and take off.
Jeffs was stopped by police on a walkway near Blenheim Road with the bag on the handlebars of his bike. He refused to speak to police but admitted taking the bag because a friend had told him to.
Defence counsel Tony Garrett said Jeffs would not engage with a psychologist to get a report done on him, and he had ended up spending five-and-a-half months in custody.
Jeffs told the court that WINZ cut his benefit because he didn’t attend a work seminar, and when they reinstated it he only got $120. He spent that on liquor and cigarettes and a wee bit of food, he said.
He ran out of money and was really hungry, so decided to grab a bag for some food. He did not know what was in the bag, but thought it might contain $20 or so, he said.
He didn’t know it was Anzac Day, and the bag looked as though it would be easy to steal, he said.
Judge Phillip Moran said Jeffs had already served five-and-a-half months in custody which was equivalent to a prison sentence longer than what would have be imposed for the theft.
Jeffs asked that he be released as he would be all right because he had $13 in the bank.
Judge Moran suggested Jeffs would not get fat on that, and sentenced him to prison time rather than a discharge so that he would get the Steps to Freedom money when he was released.
He discharged Jeffs on charges of trespass, breach of a liquor ban, and disorderly behaviour, and sentenced him to three months prison for the theft so that he would be eligible for release immediately.