Benjamin Turrei Brooking
Supreme Court decision here (pdf)
From the Dominion Post 18th September 2004
Wellington's most prolific burglar - described as being addicted to the crime - has been jailed for six years. Benjamin Turei Brooking, 42, unemployed of Maupuia, was sentenced by Wellington District Court judge Bruce Davidson yesterday for 38 charges of burglary, three of unlawfully taking motor vehicles, driving while disqualified, aggravated assault and assault on a former partner.
His lawyer, Val Nisbet, said as well as being addicted to pokie machines, drugs and alcohol, Brooking was addicted to the burglary he committed to fuel his lifestyle. Judge Davidson agreed and sent him to jail for the 11th time since 1981. Brooking has 83 previous convictions for burglary and began his latest spree just a month after his release in July last year from a five-year, three-month term.
The judge read statements from victims, one from a widow whose 26- year-old husband had died after three years of marriage. She wanted to tell Brooking what she would have said to him before the burglary. "Please don't take my wedding and engagement ring by my late husband . . . and don't take the bone carving, it means nothing to you but it means the world to me. I took it from his (husband's) neck when he lay dead, it was warm from the heat leaving his body."
Another said Brooking probably did not think he did anything other than property crimes, but he had left gaping wounds. Brooking stole $261,000 worth of goods in nine months, targeting mainly jewellery. About $33,000 was recovered from pawn shops and from 15 hidden stashes along the Maupuia track near where Brooking lived. Judge Davidson said any hope of the $195,000 reparation was clearly impossible. A special taskforce was formed when police noticed an increase in burglaries between August 2003 and April 2004.
Brooking targeted Miramar, Seatoun, Maupuia and Karori initially, and then moved on to Ngaio, Broadmeadows and Lower Hutt, going back to houses he had burgled 10 years before or multiple homes in the same street. Brooking went out at dusk, checking for houses with household lights on to see if anyone was home. He always wore cotton gardening gloves and never left fingerprints. He always burgled empty homes and ran if confronted by anyone. He was not afraid of alarms and usually went in through a bedroom because alarm sensors were seldom put there.
Brooking would take cars from the addresses to carry away what he stole before using the car to commit further burglaries. Police followed Brooking for several weeks. Once they were only seconds behind his stolen vehicle in a dead end street, but Brooking managed to get away, leading them on a chase before dumping the car and running off on foot. When he was seen by Constable Daniel Macintosh on May 4 in Cuba St in the same van, the police were not giving up, even though it meant a chase over the rooftops after Brooking went up a fire escape.
During the chase Brooking pushed the constable who fell through some roofing iron. He got cuts to his hands and legs but it did not stop him bringing Brooking's offending spree to an end. Afterward Brooking was resigned to going to jail and told police if he was "going to get done for one, he might as well go down for a whole lot". Detective Sergeant Rhys Johnston said Brooking knew all the hiding places for jewellery and all the tricks to avoid detection.
A huge amount of police resources were spent following Brooking who needed to be caught in the act. Mr Johnston said Brooking even vanished for several weeks when he thought police were getting too close, but continued to commit burglaries. Since Brooking was arrested the courts have also dealt with two members of his family who were fined and given community work for receiving stolen jewellery from him.
Date of Birth
Aggravated assault on a police officer, assault on his ex-partner, burglary (x38), unlawful taking of motor vehicles (x3), driving while disqualified (x2) in Wellington between mid 2003 and May 2004
A lengthy list of past convictions since 1976 including 83 burglaries, theft, receiving etc etc etc
Sentenced to just 6 years in September 2004
Increased by the Crown to 8 years 9 months on appeal
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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