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Teremoana Taokia (52) argued with the 20-year-old victim then gave him the phone back - after urinating on it.
He came before the Dunedin District Court yesterday after admitting three burglaries, all of which occurred during a drunken spree in the city’s student sector on January 17.
His co-defendant Wayne Bennett (39) pleaded guilty to two of the break-ins.
Their trail of moderate mayhem began on Forth St about 6am when they forced their way into a home and stole a bottle of whisky and electronic equipment.
Next, they made the short trip to Clyde St where Taokia entered another student flat while Bennett waited nearby.
Not even a resident asleep on the couch was enough to deter the burglar.
He stole the victim’s cellphone and the pair again fled.
Not content with their stolen haul, finally, the defendants got into a sleepout of a neighbouring address.
The female student who lived there was not home and the men scoured the property for anything of value.
Among $3000 of goods, Taokia and Bennett stole a guitar, a laptop, hair straighteners and make-up.
They then realised the main house was also vacant.
There they loaded towels, cosmetics and a phone charger into shopping bags and made their escape.
Their freedom, however, was short-lived, the court heard.
The victim in the second flat tracked down his cellphone and police visited the defendants the same day.
Officers found the stolen guitar in a bedroom.
Bennett met one of the victims before sentencing and counsel John Westgate said it had been a “very emotional and positive experience”.
“It made him reflect on just what criminal offending does to people.”
Judge Peter Rollo noted Bennett had 10 pages of convictions, including similar dishonesty, but gave him credit for facilitating the return of one of the stolen laptops.
Taokia did not have a criminal record as lengthy as his co-defendant and his counsel Anne Stevens QC said the burglaries were driven by an addiction to alcohol.
“A house is supposed to be a person’s castle, their pa ... where they’re safe and secure from the world,” said Judge Rollo.
“For someone to breach their pa is a very disturbing thing for a person’s wellbeing and safety.”
The offending was made worse, he said, by the fact it targeted young people away from home and involved laptops on which they had all their academic work.
“[For] Bad decisions made on that particular night ... you must pay your debt to the community.”
Both were jailed for 15 months.
Bennett was ordered to pay $1666 reparation while Taokia had to repay $2355.