No reparation order for 22 house raids

Scott Kevin McGuinnessTwenty-two Christchurch households won’t get any money back from the burglar who raided them to pay for his drug habit.

“I can’t turn straw into gold,” said District Court Judge Tony Zohrab when he decided that he would not make a reparation order against Scott Kevin McGuinness.

He jailed McGuinness, a 34-year-old Aranui man, for four years four months, in line with a sentencing indication he had given him in May.

McGuinness was appearing by video link from Christchurch Men’s Prison, and Judge Zohrab was appearing on a link from Nelson, while the defence counsel and Crown prosecutor were in court at the Christchurch Court House.

McGuinness remained calm for the hearing today, speaking politely to the judge, in contrast to his last appearance in August when he became abusive and had to be handcuffed and led out of court while the hearing went on without him.

McGuinness had a cannabis and methamphetamine habit when he burgled houses in the central city, Yaldhurst, Riccarton, St Albans, Papanui, Beckenham, Redwood, and Fendalton, from July 2012 to March this year.

Police had evidence linking him to six of the burglaries and when he was arrested he admitted the rest.

The police said McGuinness would confirm no-one was home and enter the properties after jemmying a door or window.

The items taken included jewellery, electronics, cosmetics, bicycles and clothing, and usually he would steal a bag from the address to carry items away in.

He was appearing for sentence on charges of breaching parole, theft of money from a house, another theft, two breaches of bail, and 22 burglaries. He admitted all the charges.

Judge Zohrab said McGuinness had a significant criminal history. He was concerned that if he made a reparation order, the burglary and theft victims would receive a letter saying that repayment had been ordered when there was no prospect of any money being paid.

He said he detected no remorse by McGuinness except for the situation he found himself in.

“I would like the victims to be compensated but given your background, the nature of the offending, and your attitude it would be a waste of time ordering you to pay reparation. I can’t turn straw into gold,” he said.

After he was sentenced, McGuinness asked to be allowed to finish a business management course he has been doing in prison for the last eight weeks. “It helps you to think better and decide what you are going to do when you get out. It gives you new strategies,” he explained.

A prison officer told the court he would allow McGuinness to finish the last week of the course, even though his status had now changed to a sentenced prisoner.

Judge Zohrab told McGuinness: “I hope it makes a difference.”

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