Burglar can keep reward for returning stolen medals, court rules

2012-12-20 11:43

Wellington – A burglar who stole 96 medals from the Army Museum may keep the NZ$100 000 (R710 000) reward he received for returning them, according to a Supreme Court ruling.

James Kapa is serving a 13-year prison sentence for breaking into the North Island museum in December 2007 and stealing the medals, which included nine Victoria Crosses, the highest award for gallantry in the British Commonwealth.

He and his accomplice, Ronald van Wakeren, subsequently claimed a reward for their return anonymously through a lawyer.

When they were later arrested and pleaded guilty to the theft at the Waiouru museum, van Wakeren repaid his share of the reward, but Kapa did not.

Kapa appealed a judge’s order to repay the NZ$100 000, and the Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that neither the police nor the donors of the reward were entitled to reparation under the Sentencing Act because they were not victims of the crime.

The judges said, however, that the police could still try to get the money back by bringing an action under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.

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