Man jailed for club burglary, arson

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

A man who burgled the St Albans-Shirley Club in Christchurch, and then went back later and set fire to it, was sentenced to over four years’ jail.

In the Christchurch District Court, Reece William Janetins Skipper, 39, was sentenced on charges of burglary, arson, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

On January 16, at 8.15am, Skipper entered the club, and broke into an upstairs bar and office, damaging the doors and removing items.

He went into the office and opened several boxes containing over $10,000, and put the money in his backpack.

He tried unsuccessfully to get money out of a poker machine, and then left the club.

At 10.10am he re-entered the club and poured an accelerant on the carpet, around the pool tables in the bar area, set fire to it, and then left again.

A passer-by noticed the fire, and workmen at the club were able to put it out, but over $96,000 worth of damage had been done. Damaged carpets were about half of that cost.

Defence counsel Kerryn Beaton said Skipper’s pre-sentence report was optimistic, and his family of a son and a new-born daughter was what would keep him from more offending.

She said Skipper was deeply regretful, both to the harm and loss to the victims, but also for the situation he had put his partner in.

He was doing rehabilitation programmes in prison, she said, and was working in there.

Judge Jane Farish said Skipper had a methamphetamine and prescription drug addiction which was why he behaved in such a bizarre fashion when he left with the cash, but returned to set fire to the club.

Skipper was on bail at the time on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, and that charge, with the drug lifestyle, was particularly sinister, she said.

Skipper’s custody remand had been a wake-up call, but he would now miss out on the first few years of his daughter’s life, Judge Farish said.

She sentenced him to four years two months in prison, and ordered him to to pay reparation of $10,387 for the cash he stole, when he is released.

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