Crooked career choice in question

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

A judge told Sean Daniel Browne he was “not the smartest guy”. Might be time for the teenager to rethink his crooked career choice.

Browne has already served a 10-month jail term for burglary.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert told him at his latest sentencing this week: “For a guy who’s 18, this history is a disgrace. There is a lot of violence and dishonesty.”

If Browne’s record doesn’t show much talent for not getting caught, his latest endeavours have really proved the point.

He left traces of his DNA at the scene of a burglary in Sea Eagles Place in New Brighton, on May 22.

On May 30, he was doing a burglary at a house in Deepdale Street, Burnside, when the householder came home.

Browne’s unknown friend got away, but his own escape over the back fence was unsuccessful. The householder chased him, caught him, and held him there till the police arrived.

Browne then had to stand in the dock at his sentencing while the householder told him he hoped the teenager would work towards “a much more positive future”.

Judge Gilbert told Browne: “You are not the smartest guy, but you understand enough to know that what you are doing is wrong. You are capable of making choices.”

The householder who had discovered and confronted Brown in his home, told the court: “I find I struggle almost every night to feel that my family is safe. There is a gnawing fear I have, which has slowly eaten me away.”

The family now had three children, one born only days after the burglary. The father said his two sons, aged two and four, now regularly had nightmares about bad people coming into the home. “They should not have to deal with this,” he said.

Brown admitted three charges of household burglaries, and the armed robbery of the Woolston Night and Day store. Judge Gilbert said: “Unbelievably, this store has been the subject of 10 aggravated robberies in 15 months by people like you.”

Browne went to the shop at 3.30am on August 20, with two friends. One had a knife, one had a small sledge hammer, and Browne had an air-rifle. “Give us what you’ve got or we’ll kill you,” Browne shouted. The group took $680 from two tills and tobacco worth $1700.

Defence counsel Tony Greig said the air-rifle was elderly and was not going to make much impact. “It would have been better to be shot with that rifle than to be stabbed with a knife,” he said.

However, Judge Gilbert said it would have been frightening for the shop owner, and the weapon could easily have been mistaken for a .22 rifle.

Jailing Browne for five years and ordering no reparation because he had no chance of paying any, Judge Gilbert told the 18-year-old there was a need to protect the community.

“You need to figure out a way to change, otherwise you will end up spending your life in prison,” said the judge.

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