1493786461532 - Remote offender swaps community work after travel struggles

Remote offender swaps community work after travel struggles

A man living in the Marlborough Sounds has managed to avoid completing his community work by telling a judge he lives too far out of town.

Travis Scott, 19, was convicted of animal cruelty for allowing dogs to maul a goat for an extended period of time between March and May last year.

He was sentenced to 120 hours’ community work and three months’ community detention, with conditions to do alcohol and drug counselling and anger management.

But Scott asked to have his sentence changed at the Blenheim District Court on Monday, saying he struggled to get into Blenheim to do the community work.

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Scott lived with his parents at Ngakuta Bay in the Marlborough Sounds, about 40 kilometres north of Blenheim.

His community detention sentence would end on Friday.

Judge David Ruth accepted that Scott had served his sentence without issue so far and granted his request.

He converted the remaining community work hours to an extra month of community detention.

That meant Scott had to be home between the hours of 8pm and 5am and police would sometimes visit to make sure he was there.

Corrections acting district manager Sharon Hansen said some offenders did struggle to travel to Community Corrections centres, but it was their responsibility to find a way there.

However staff did pick up offenders at certain points, including in Picton and Seddon, on specific days of the week, and offenders had to make their own way to those pick-up points.

“This is a reality of community sentences, especially for offenders who live in remote places throughout New Zealand. 

“We appreciate that for some this is difficult, especially if they are on driving related charges and don’t have public transport.”

Corrections was unable to say how frequently offenders applied to swap community work for other sentences, but there was a range of alternative sentences that could be imposed such as a fine or community detention, Hansen said.

“The imposition of any sentence is a consequence of someone’s offending. Community work offenders do unpaid work in the community to pay something back for the offence they have committed in a way that benefits the whole community. 

“While we are supporting them, they need to take some responsibility.”

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