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Judge Urges Burglar To Apologise In Person To His Victim

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Christchurch, Oct 31 NZPA - A judge today acknowledged a young man's efforts to turn his life around after a prison term, and urged him to apologise in person to the Nelson victim of a burglary.

Tab'anga Latakihekovi Diaz's burglary of the house behind the Nelson Cathedral -- where the cathedral canon lived -- could have been a very destructive affair, Christchurch District Court was told.

Diaz, now 20, went there two years ago along with a 13-year-old.

Diaz saw that it was the home of a Christian family and decided not to steal anything, but his young accomplice took a CD player, and a silver cup and plate used for administering Holy Communion to the sick and infirm.

Diaz then helped the youngster set a fire, which the boy lit.

The pair ran away and a police officer put out the fire with his car's fire extinguisher before it took hold.

Since then, Diaz has pleaded guilty to another burglary, unlawfully taking a vehicle, a firearm charge, and breach of a community work sentence.

He got two years' jail, served some of the sentence in prison and the remainder on home detention.

Diaz explained from the dock that police had known about this Nelson burglary for some time and he did not think it was fair to bring the further charge when he was finishing his sentence.

He said he was starting to turn a new leaf and his mother confirmed that his prison and home detention sentence had dramatically changed him.

Diaz admitted: "I pretty much had my beer goggles on every day in Nelson."

He was now living with his parents and his mother said it was not a gang family.

Judge Michael Crosbie, who recalled sitting many times on the steps of the cathedral, discussed in detail with defence counsel Paul Norcross and crown prosecutor Tim Mackenzie whether Diaz would have received a longer sentence if both burglaries had been dealt with together.

The cathedral house burglary pre-dated the one he was jailed for.

"Along the way, you seem to have improved yourself," the judge told Diaz.

He ordered him to do 100 hours of community work and released him under supervision for nine months.

He also said Diaz should be man enough to write to the burglary victim and ask if he would be allowed to go there and apologise face to face.

It might give the victim some peace "to see the face of the man who has been in and roughed his house up," the judge said.

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