Burglar jailed over $140k crime spree

A Dunedin burglar’s crime spree — totalling $140,000 — ruined Christmas for many of his victims, a court has heard.

Paul James Macdonald, 37, appeared in the Dunedin District Court last week where he was jailed for nearly five years on 23 charges, which included seven burglaries and six counts of receiving stolen property.

The defendant managed to cram the array of crimes into just three weeks during December 2022, the court heard, and on several occasions stole Christmas presents from family homes.

"None of these people had a lot of money, Mr Macdonald", Judge Jim Large said.

"You had no right to go and steal their property."

His first break-in took place on the night of December 7 at a City Rise home.

As was the case with several of Macdonald’s other burglaries, the residents were home and asleep at the time.

He stole groceries, clothing and keys as well as debit cards, which he used for a $600 shopping spree just hours later.

As the string of dishonesty offences began, his relationship was also unravelling, court documents showed.

When his then partner said she was leaving him, he throttled her, then verbally abused her when she declined to perform sex acts on him.

A couple of days later, the defendant punched her twice in the chest for being "smart".

Then the burglaries ramped up.

In consecutive days, he raided a Shiel Hill home before crossing the city to hit a Mornington property.

At the first, he made off with $30,000 of jewellery, at the second, he took $8000 of items and a couple of bank cards which he drained of $1800.

Police saw Macdonald in a stolen vehicle on December 15, but he raced off, hitting 100kmh in a 50kmh zone, prompting officers to back off.

In the ensuing days, the break-ins continued, and as Christmas neared, the theft of gifts became a more common feature of his crimes.

His final burglary, in Maori Hill on December 23, scored him $12,000 of goods, as well as passports and car keys.

Police finally ended Macdonald’s rampage on Christmas Day when they surrounded the Fairfield Airbnb at which he was staying.

The defendant’s busy December was capped off five days later, when he celebrated his 36th birthday — behind bars.

Counsel Karlena Lawrence said her client had been given alcohol by his father at a very young age, been expelled from school at 14 before associating with gangs and developing a severe drug addiction.

Judge Jim Large accepted the man’s "dreadful" childhood had played a pivotal role in his life’s trajectory, but stressed his offences had caused huge financial and psychological hardship to his victims.

"[It] created a lot of stress at a time of year that should’ve been happy and joyful", the judge said.

The court heard Macdonald had more than 20 burglary convictions to his name, but had previously been afforded opportunities to turn his life around.

At the time of his most recent crimes, he was serving a sentence of intensive supervision and had left a rehabilitation programme.

Macdonald, who has spent the majority of his adult life behind bars, was sentenced to four years 10 months’ imprisonment.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz , Court reporter