Burglar released from jail early for good behaviour, progress

A man who targeted some of Dunedin’s most salubrious suburbs during a lengthy burglary spree has been released from prison.

Benjamin Zachery Burgess has nearly two years of his sentence to serve but the Parole Board, in a recently released decision, determined his risk of reoffending had reduced significantly.

The defendant was jailed for four years, seven months before the Dunedin District Court after stealing more than $300,000 of items. When police raided Burgess’ home, they found more than 600 pieces of stolen property.

The Parole Board heard the inmate had completed two courses while incarcerated, including the drug treatment programme.

He was a minimum-security prisoner and had been in the self-care unit at the Otago Corrections Facility for the past year.

Burgess (31) had worked outside the prison on a dairy farm for nine months and had found other employment for the last two months, on the release-to-work scheme.

There were "excellent reports about his progress", panel convener Kathryn Snook said.

Burgess said the work had made a difference to his rehabilitation.

During a previous stint behind bars, he had been released and went straight back to using drugs, he told the board.

The inmate was also assisted by a positive report from his supervising Corrections officer.

"He said he has known Mr Burgess for a lengthy period of time and has seen a great improvement in his maturity," Ms Snook noted.

Each burglary Burgess committed followed a similar method.

He and Lorin Winter — who was jailed for five years, three months last year — would draw the curtains of a house and rummage around for valuables.

Among the masses of stolen goods were: a telescope, a $50,000 Audi, three children’s motorcycles, whiteware, a traditional Russian instrument, a mandolin and an entire sound system.

Burgess was also sentenced for domestic violence. He told the board the relationship with his former partner was now over.

Burgess was released yesterday, subject to the following conditions:

  • Not to possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
  • To live at an address approved by Probation and comply with tenancy rules.
  • To abide by a 10pm-5am curfew for the first three months of release.
  • To attend any programmes as directed by Probation.
  • Not to contact co-offender or victims.

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