The judge was wrong to say he is taking a risk – it’s the property-owning public who are put at risk

Let’s be upstanding for the good Judge Sygrove.

We refer to Judge Chris Sygrove, who has given a criminal with a long history of offending the chance to stay out of jail.

We he should do this is somewhat bewildering to Alf, who is a great believer in banging up bad buggers for as long as the law will allow, and even longer if there’s a chance of getting away with it.

He has some sympathy for the Muslim approach to these matters and the practice of lopping off the hands of pilferers.

And he has never quite grasped why so many Western countries have dispensed with the gallows, the guillotine and other wonderful instruments of behavioural improvement, including the rack, the stocks and the ducking stool.

He certainly is disinclined to give second chances to blokes with a history of burglary and of being banged up but not learning their lesson.

Judge Sygrove thought otherwise when Matthew Joseph Thomas appeared before him for sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court on one charge of burglary and two of breaching his release conditions.

Was there any doubt Thomas indulged in a bit of burglary?

Not that Alf can discern.

The police summary of facts said officers were called by the owner of a Brois St, New Plymouth, house on February 18 after he was alerted by email that security cameras at the address had been activated.

The camera footage showed Thomas trying doors on both levels of the two-storey house and using his T-shirt to wipe door handles before leaving.

Thomas was later located a short distance from the house and told police he had gone there to use the telephone to call the AA.

Which AA he tried to call is not spelled out in the report Alf read.

But it does seem he might be a candidate to join Alcoholics Anonymous.

Defence lawyer Josie Mooney said Thomas had spent a substantial amount of time in jail during the past 10 years.

Mooney said Thomas had strong family support, wanted to address alcohol and drug issues and move forward with his life.

“It’s an opportunity to turn his life around which he hasn’t previously had,” she said.

This can’t be true, surely.

He has had a whole lifetime to try to turn his life around.

He hasn’t done so thus far and the the cops seriously doubt he will do so in the immediate future.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Craig Jones said Thomas had a high risk of reoffending.

So what did the judge do?

The unbelievable.

Sygrove said Thomas’ offending was at the low end of the scale.

“I’m prepared to take a risk on you on this occasion.”

Sygrove sentenced Thomas to six months home detention with conditions not to consume alcohol or illicit drugs. He ordered Thomas to come up if called upon within 12 months on the charges of breaching his release conditions.

The judge is prepared to take a risk?

What risk is that, exactly?

Only the risk of being proved wrong.

It is the property owning public who face the risk of Thomas sneaking away from home whenever the fancy grabs him to break into a house to – ha! – make a phone call.

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