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Youths Get Jail Message From Judge

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 10 NZPA - Jaws were dropping in the dock as the city's youth got an unmistakable "smarten up or else" message from Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber.

They reacted with shock and awe as their jail terms began, suddenly and unexpectedly, Christchurch Court News website reported.

Ronayne Dempsey, 20, was running more than fashionably late for his court appearance and a warrant for his arrest had already been issued when he finally turned up late morning.

He pleaded guilty to possession of a knife, disorderly behaviour, and breach of the liquor ban. It was the knife charge that impressed Judge Erber.

"The resort by young people to the use and possession of knives in the city is a matter which very much concerns the court," he said.

"The courts are not prepared to be lenient. This is not a court of endless indulgence."

He noted that Dempsey had convictions for possession of a knife in public in December 2007, and possession of an offensive weapon on July this year.

Then he sent him to jail for two months.

Anthony Ryan Goulter, 19, came up for stealing a bottle of Jim Beam bourbon from a liquor store, and not doing his community work. He pleaded guilty.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Dave Murray said Goulter stole the 1.75 litre bottle worth $70 from a liquor store on October 9.

The store manager chased him and noted the car registration number. Police found the car and Goulter and the bottle of booze in the grounds of Burwood Hospital later that day.

Sergeant Murray suggested that community work was not really an adequate sentence because of Goulter's record.

The probation officer said that in March, Goulter had been given 70 hours of community work on top of an 80-hour sentence he was already serving.

He had failed to report in August and had only done six hours of the new sentence.

Judge Erber said Goulter had already been given a final warning about not going to community work in June.

He said the teenager's record "indicates a disinclination to obey figures of authority", and jailed him for 28 days on the spot.

There was a gasp of incredulity from the dock, and the teenager's jaw dropped distinctly before the cell door opened and the jail term began.

Shortly afterwards, 18-year-old schoolboy John Anthony Fraser of Spreydon was remanded in custody for sentence on bank hold-up charges and told that home detention was not even going to be considered.

If the message gets through, Christchurch could be in for quite a quiet weekend.

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