Robber with a booze problem who broke the bones of a pensioner at last gets the jail he deserves

Judge Philippa Cunningham has been given a lesson in how to deal with thugs by the Court of Appeal.

She went soft on a felon, taking into account his problem with booze and – ha – his claim to be remorseful, even though he refused to be involved in a restorative justice process.

The plonker in this case stole the life savings of a slightly built 82-year-old, leaving her with broken bones in the attack on her.


He is Darren Murphy Fidow, who was 18 years old when he and a mate targeted the pensioner at an Auckland shopping mall.

Presumably they targeted her because anyone younger and bigger might have been apt to fight back.

According to a report at Stuff (here) the victim had just left a hair salon and was crossing the car park with $600 – which she said was her life’s savings – in her handbag.

Fidow pushed her to the ground, grabbing at her handbag. The plucky pensioner held on to the bag but Fidow ripped it away and ran off.

She suffered a broken hip that required surgery, a broken wrist, bleeding on the side of her nose and bruising to her face. She was in hospital for approximately one month, requiring re-constructive surgery on her wrist and hip.

In a victim impact statement the pensioner described the attack as having “substantial and permanent” effects – she has lost her independence and is unable to undertake tasks with the energy she had before.

Fidow gives every sign of having a serious disregard for law and order.

At the time of the robbery Fidow was on bail for burglary and was bailed again. He then committed another burglary.

But Judge Philippa Cunningham sentenced him to 11 months’ home detention.

She gave him discounts for pleading guilty, his youth and his treatment for addiction.

He had been bailed again, this time to Odyssey House, and was undergoing a residential course of treatment there.

The Solicitor-General regarded the sentence as “manifestly inadequate” and appealed.

And today the Court of Appeal quashed the home detention, sending Fidow to jail for almost two years.

The Appeal court agreed Fidow’s age and remorse should be taken into account, but said jail was still appropriate.

“The final outcome on re-sentencing is therefore that the terms of home detention imposed by the sentencing Judge are quashed and instead cumulative sentences totalling two years and four months’ imprisonment are imposed on the relevant convictions.”

Alf is not so sure this isn’t still on the soft side, but it’s one helluva stiffer sentence than the one dished out by Judge Cunningham.

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