Man sentenced for stealing cylinders

A man stole six hot-water cylinders in a "cynical, prolonged attack" on an abandoned North Otago school.

Ricky Chapman Trounson, 50, appeared in the Oamaru District Court yesterday after admitting to burglary, possessing cannabis and possessing a methamphetamine pipe.

The court heard that in April, the man was living out of his car near Campbell Park Estate at Otekaike in the Waitaki Valley, 60km northwest of Oamaru.

Trounson used power tools to remove copper wiring from about 12 buildings at the site.

He also took copper toilet cisterns and six hot-water cylinders and smashed multiple porcelain sinks so he could remove the taps.

A police summary said it would have taken the defendant multiple days or weeks to remove the scrap he did and he intended to sell what he had taken.

Police estimated $20,000 of damage was done.

On April 27, Trounson’s vehicle was searched and inside was found a large amount of copper pipe and a hot-water cylinder, as well as a methamphetamine pipe and 2g of cannabis.

Initially, Judge Campbell Savage intended to send the defendant to jail.

"It’s a cynical, prolonged attack on a property," Judge Savage said.

But  learning the defendant had previously attended the school he targeted, Campbell Park School, changed his mind, he said.

The school catered for troubled young boys and those with intellectual disabilities from 1908 until it closed in 1987.

There have been allegations swirling around relating to Campbell Park, including sexual and physical abuse by some pupils who targeted others.

From the dock, Trounson said he was disappointed the school had been left abandoned as the building had potential.

Judge Savage sentenced the defendant to three months’ community detention and 18 months’ intensive supervision and ordered him to pay $1000 reparation.