$132,160 crime spree admitted

A Redwood man has admitted a three-month crime spree across Christchurch and North Canterbury in which goods worth $132,160 were stolen.

Tradies’ tools make up much of the gear taken by Barry Lee Stewart, 31, in burglaries and thefts from April to June in Christchurch’s northern suburbs of Belfast and Redwood, and the North Canterbury towns of Kaiapoi and Waikuku.

He has been held in custody since his arrest while the charges mounted up against him.

Another new charge – receiving a stolen $3500 mountain bike – was laid yesterday before he pleaded guilty to 35 charges before Judge Stephen O’Driscoll in the Christchurch District Court.

Police are completing details of four more charges which will be put to Stewart for pleas next week.

Judge O’Driscoll remanded him in custody for sentencing on September 18.

He ordered a report on the amount of the losses and Stewart’s ability to pay for them, and referred the case for a possible restorative justice meeting between the offender and his long list of victims.

Judge O’Driscoll also asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared but ruled out any possibility of a home detention sentence by declining to order the necessary assessment.

Stewart pleaded guilty to 13 thefts, 10 burglaries, receiving stolen property, unlawful possession of a firearm, failing to stop for the police, reckless driving, two charges of unlawful possession of a knife in public, possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine, possession of tools for taking car, breach of community work, and three breaches of his bail.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Kathy Pomfrett said police had noticed a spike in the number of house burglaries and tradesmen’s vehicles being broken into in northern Christchurch and Kaiapoi and Waikuku. The police set up the Operation Belfast investigation in response.

She said the burglaries were occurring during the day and night, and were targeting high end electrical items and valuable household goods.

Trademen’s vehicles were being targeted for power tools and trade items. Vehicles were being raided while they were parked in driveways or on the road.

The police eventually targeted Stewart, a beneficiary, with warrants under the Search and Surveillance Act. They found items related to the thefts and burglaries at his home, in his car, at an address associated with him, and at a motor camp where he had been staying.

Police are still working out the value of the property which has not been found.

Stewart declined to make any statement when he was caught.

He had also been caught in May after a high-speed chase through the Marshland area, late afternoon on June 22 when traffic was heavy and congested.

He drove on the wrong side of the road causing drivers to take evasive action.

Police found a firearm in the car, as well as a knife, and a meth pipe.

Sergeant Pomfrett said he told police he had fled because he thought he was wanted.

Gerald Lascelles appeared as defence counsel for Stewart.

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