Woman claims she was forced into crime

A woman says she was forced into crime by her ex-partner’s involvement with the Nomads gang.

Forty-four-year-old Amanda Cherie Cook went on a 10-month crime spree, which she says was the price she had to pay to leave the gang “family”.

She had admitted 13 charges in the Christchurch District Court, including burglary, receiving stolen property from a burglary, being unlawfully in an enclosed yard, petrol drive-off thefts, and driving while suspended.

She was caught on a householder’s security camera “scoping” a property ahead of two burglaries.

Cook was assessed by probation as being a low risk of reoffending. It said her spree of offending “could be indicative of manipulation by others, or could be a way of getting back at the system”.

Defence counsel Glenda Murphy said there had been a breakdown of a violent relationship with a partner associated with the Nomads gang. “It has been particularly difficult for her to extricate herself from that relationship.”

There had been a “period of instability associated with her housing” which had reached critical mass and led to her suffering from anxiety and being completely disorganised and tearful. She was extremely remorseful for the losses the burglary victims had suffered.

There had been significant involvement with the police’s family violence team at the time when the relationship was breaking down.

“Pressure has been brought to bear on her by other people and she has not been able to withstand that pressure,” said Miss Murphy. This occurred when she tried to take herself away from the gang scene.

Judge Garland asked: “Are you telling me that members of the gang have been putting pressure on her to commit crime as sort of price to pay for breaking away from the gang ‘family’?”

“In essence, that is what she has indicated to me,” said Miss Murphy. “Her association with that man is a significant concern for the police. The indication I have received is that that is the case still.”

Judge Garland said: “She has been placed under pressure to commit crimes. My concern is that if I put her back out in the community, I have no way of knowing whether she is still under pressure or not.”

Miss Murphy said the break had now been made by Cook. She was now taking positive steps to engage with her supports in the community. She urged that a supervision sentence be imposed, which would provide even more support.

Judge Garland said Cook was “something of an enigma”. Since a shoplifting charge in 1991, she had no other convictions apart from one for drink-driving, until her crime spree beginning in December 2016.

During her time on bail, Cook was arrested on two more charges last week. One was for driving while her licence had been suspended for demerit points and the other was for possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine. The police dropped the pipe charge because Cook said it was not hers and had been found under the seat of a car she was driving, which was also not hers. She said she was not a meth-user.

Judge Garland detailed her offending from December 2016 to October 2017, with one driving charge early this year. He told how property worth $8000 had been taken from one house, including a rifle and scope, two laptop computers, jewellery and clothing. The scope had later been found at Cook’s address but worryingly, the rifle had never been found.

Judge Garland placed her on community detention at her home for six months, with a nightly curfew, and ordered her to do 150 hours of community work.

He put her on intensive supervision for 18 months with special conditions that she undertake assessment by a departmental psychologist and treatment and counselling as required.

He also ordered her to pay reparations totaling about $8600 to the victims of her crimes, by regular payments from the benefit she now receives.

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