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Judge gives Golriz a $1860 fine on charges carrying up to seven years’ jail maximum

In brief
  • Former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman fined $1860 for stealing fashion items worth $8367.
  • Pleaded guilty to four charges from incidents between October and December last year.
  • Theft occurred at retailers in Auckland and Wellington.
  • Previous conviction for careless driving noted, but this is her first offence for theft.
  • Court considered the value of stolen items and her criminal history in sentencing.

Golriz Ghahraman fined

Disgraced former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has been convicted and fined a total of $1860 including court costs after pleading guilty to four charges of stealing fashion items worth $8367 from three retailers in Auckland and Wellington last year.

Despite technically being a “first offence”, more accurately it’s a “first catch”, as the Green MP’s crime spree spanned four separate incidents beginning 22 October at Cre8iveworx in Wellington when she entered the store with a male associate and stole a $695 Zambesi shirt.

Then on 21 December Ghahraman and two associates walked into Scotties Boutique in Auckland where she stole a coat worth $1900 and a $160 wallet. The maximum sentence available for that offence was seven years’ jail.

On 22 December Ghahraman’s Christmas shopping continued at Standard Issue in Newmarket where she snaffled a $389 cardy from the counter and legged it while the manager’s back was turned.

Scotties again hosted the former lawyer and lawmaker on 23 December, again with an associate, where Golriz concealed $5123 worth of goods but was intercepted as she left by staff asking to inspect her bag. Ghahraman declined, but an associate later returned most (not all) of the items to the store.

Ghahraman has a previous conviction for careless driving.

No firm policy 

There is no firm policy by the Courts on when to jail shoplifting offenders. In Torbarina v Police, the accused had stolen an HP laptop and the High Court noted:

“The starting point to be applied in respect of offending of this type will necessarily be dictated by the value of the items stolen, and the offender’s previous criminal history. Taking the theft of the laptop computer in the present case as an example, a first offender would undoubtedly receive a community-based sentence in respect of that offence. However, a person in Mr Torbarina’s position who has appeared on more than 40 previous occasions for similar offending must expect that a custodial sentence will be the starting point.”

Torbarina’s appeal against a 16 month prison sentence was dismissed.

In contrast, a first offender who stole more than $25,000 worth of items lost his appeal against a two year and seven month jail term, even after the court took remorse into account and an alcohol addiction. The Court noted that although it was a first offence for theft, the accused had some more minor prior convictions for unrelated offending and a 31 month incarceration for the 43 charges he faced was not excessive.

In Mareraki v Police last year, a mother with an alcohol addiction was jailed for 25 months because the Court regarded the $9000 value of the shoplifting haul as “significant”:

“The offending typically involved Ms Mareraki entering commercial retail premises, picking up items and leaving the store without paying for them. The total value of the goods stolen amounted to $9,425.23. The offending spanned a period of approximately 13 months, from 29 May 2022 until 27 June 2023. Mr Greaves submitted that the offending, while occurring over a lengthy period, was, of itself, unsophisticated, did not involve a breach of trust and the total loss was moderate. I largely agree with his assessment apart from as it relates to the total value of the goods stolen. When looked at in totality, the value of the goods stolen is significant.

“The various reports that were available at sentencing indicate that the offending was primarily motivated by Ms Mareraki’s addiction to alcohol and her desire to provide for her family and those around her.”

Mareraki had prior convictions.

In 2022, a woman claiming PTSD was nevertheless jailed for more than two years for stealing from her employer. The sentencing judge gave her a three month discount for mental health factors but said they didn’t deserve more than that:

“After thoroughly reviewing Dr Lim’s report, the Judge arrived at the following conclusions:

  • [33] What is incongruous about your offending is that it does not appear to have occurred because of an addiction. To say that you were in a fog and not in the right mind does not necessarily explain to me why you did this. To say that you were “just trying to live” also falls on deaf ears really. You were paid a salary. You had a good job. All of this appeared to go on extras.

  • [43] I do not make light of that but what I am really struggling with in this report is to make a nexus between underlying psychological, if not, psychiatric conditions and your offending. The report is very full but it is largely on a medical basis. What you have in terms of depression, anxiety, and reference to PTSD, does not stop you functioning at a very high level. It does not stop you having the ability to hold down a very good job making business decisions and financial decisions. I really am struggling to see how this provides a causal nexus.
  • [44] The report does lead me to understand something about your psyche and your make up but I do not understand it to be as resolute as many reports that I have read about the causes of the offending and the causal nexus. Having said that, you are entitled to a discount for those issues that occurred that may be relevant. On that basis, the discount I am prepared to give you is in the order of three months.”

The woman appealed, and lost.

Judge June Jelas, who delivered Ghahraman’s verdict, last year discharged a female sex offender without conviction despite evidence that the victim – an 11 year old girl – had been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the attack, so clearly PTSD didn’t carry overwhelming weight with Judge Jelas on that occasion.

Finally, in Bracey v Police, an 18 year old first offender with an ADHD diagnosis who stole a car (later recovered) and drove off without paying for petrol had a 10 month home detention sentence lowered to community detention (home curfew) on appeal:

“I allow the appeal. The two concurrent sentences of home detention (10 months and four months) are quashed. I substitute a sentence of 12 months’ intensive supervision and six months’ community detention on the burglary charge involving the burglary of the commercial premises. I substitute a sentence of six months’ intensive supervision and six months’ community detention on the burglary of the residential premises, to be served concurrently. Community detention is to be served at the existing home detention address with a curfew period from 7 pm until 6 am seven days a week.”

That’s the sentencing context that Golriz Ghahraman’s punishment is set against.

Feature image: Facebook

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