Judge tells offender: Leave ex alone or face prison sentence

Invercargill District Court.

A MAN who ransacked his ex-girlfriend’s house and stole a locket containing her grandmother’s ashes before trying to set fire to her home was reminded by a judge in the Invercargill District Court last Thursday that the relationship was over.

The relationship between Jaron Matthew Wallace (28) and his former girlfriend broke up in June 2021.

The police summary of facts says, three months later, on September 5, the woman arrived home to find someone had broken in through the laundry window and her home had been ransacked including lubricant being poured over her bed.

A locket containing her grandmother’s ashes and her child’s hospital band from her birth had been taken.

‘‘In the kitchen, a pot had been placed on the stove. A glass bottle of cooking oil was placed upside down in the pot and the electric element was turned on high,’’ the summary says.

The extractor fan had melted and fallen on the stove and a microwave and laptop nearby were melted and charred.

As a result, there was minor damage to the kitchen and laundry ceilings.

Two days later police executed a search warrant of Wallace’s house and vehicle.

He could offer no explanation as to how the hospital band was found in the footwell of his

Wallace’s palm print was found on the inside of the laundry window frame, and fingerprints found on the outside of the window frame, pot handle and the lubricant.

At sentencing last Thursday, Crown prosecutor William Chapman said the pre-sentence report was positive for the defendant.

‘‘There seems to be genuine remorse,’’ Mr Chapman said.

Defence counsel Roger Eagles said Wallace had returned the locket to the victim and he had written a letter of apology to the victim.

Wallace had spent four months in custody since his arrest.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said Wallace had difficulty accepting the woman’s new relationship and his offending was calculated and undertaken to upset the victim.

‘‘The attempted arson clearly had the potential to cause some serious damage.’’

While there was no pre-meditation in the attempted arson, the fact the element had been left on a high heat showed intent, he said.

After Judge O’Driscoll sentenced Wallace to 200 hours’ community work, five months’ home detention and ordered him to pay $2000 emotional harm reparation for the burglary and attempted arson, he also issued a warning.

‘‘Leave the victim alone. The relationship has been at an end for some time.

‘‘If you do anything involving her, you can expect a further sentence of imprisonment.’’