Jail for protection breaches

A man has been jailed for 13 months for repeatedly telephoning and texting his former partner in breach of a protection order, only six weeks after he was sentenced for similar offending.

Jamie Morton (27), of Dunedin, might not have made face-to-face contact with the woman, but his persistent telephone calls and text messages over seven days could be as threatening and intimidating as if he had stood in front of her, Judge Stephen Coyle said in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Morton had admitted 10 charges of breaching a Domestic Violence Act protection order on various dates between July 27 and August 4.

He called the woman as many as 23 times on one day and repeatedly sent multiple text messages.

Counsel Helgi Henderson said Morton's reason for trying to make contact was his concern about his children seeing their grandfather, his father, who was very ill.

He knew he should not have done it but his concern overrode his judgement.

''I buy that only to a limited extent,'' Judge Coyle said.

''You have a lawyer acting for you and it should have been clear, when your calls were not answered and the victim did not respond, that she did not want contact with you.''

Morton was described in the pre-sentence report as having ''negligible remorse'' and likely to engage in similar behaviour if faced with a similar situation, the judge said.

Crown counsel Robin Bates submitted a prison term was appropriate based on the circumstances, what had happened previously, Morton's failure to learn from the previous convictions and what he had done.

Mr Henderson said rehabilitative options recommended last time were never offered to the defendant.

He asked the judge to consider home detention and said, despite the breaches, Morton had complied with strict bail conditions for seven months.

But Judge Coyle said Morton had been ordered not to make contact with the woman, yet blatantly kept contacting her by phone and text.

''You don't care about the court order,'' he said. Any attempt to minimise the effect on the woman of the contact was ''reprehensible'' and showed ignorance of ''the dynamics of domestic violence'', the judge told Morton.

He said it was unfortunate the rehabilitative options of the last sentence were not given force to - ''for reasons more relating to policy than anything else''.

It was unfortunate because, when the protection order was finalised, the defendant would have been ordered to attend a Stopping Violence programme - ''to help refocus his thinking''.

A sentence denouncing his behaviour was equally important to Morton and the wider community, Judge Coyle said.

There had to be a strongly deterrent message that ''such blatant and arrogant breaches'' would not be tolerated.

The offending, within six weeks of sentencing on the previous breach, was aggravated by the defendant's ''extreme lack of remorse''.


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