Russian orphan had 'brutal childhood'

Date: 2012-02-14

Russian orphan had 'brutal childhood'
Last updated 13:35 14/02/2012

A Russian orphan who says he suffered a brutal childhood in New Zealand has been jailed for a series of burglaries of earthquake-damaged homes.

Alexei Nickavick Kelly's sad and troubled history was described in Christchurch District Court at his sentencing by Judge Noel Walsh today.

The 20-year-old had admitted three burglaries, breach of his prison release conditions, and being found unlawfully in a yard.

Defence counsel Angela Grant said Kelly had now been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experiences.

"His drug and alcohol issues indicate he appears to have self-medicated," she said.

Kelly had been in prison on remand since November, and had been clean of drugs during that period.

"He has had time to think and has had a clear mind to do so," said Grant.

"He wants to apply for a Limited Service Volunteer course at Burnham."

Kelly had burgled damaged and red-stickered houses in Oxford Terrace and Peterborough Street in July.

Three households had a cellphone, alcohol, food, a crystal collection, and jewellery being taken.

A television was taken from one house but found on the driveway.

Judge Walsh said the pre-sentence report showed Kelly was born in Russia but was placed in an orphanage with his two brothers.

He never knew his father who died from alcohol-induced exposure, while his mother was in prison and unable to care for the children.

The brothers were adopted by a New Zealand family in the North Island, and lived on a farm.

"You had an appalling experience at the hands of the adoptive father. You were physically beaten frequently. You say the brutal childhood was the catalyst for your very heavy alcohol use later in life."

The family sold the farm, bought a housebus, and adopted a transient lifestyle.

Kelly moved from school to school, and was eventually expelled for fighting and truancy. Criminal offending followed, including seven convictions for burglary before today's sentencing.

Judge Walsh noted Kelly had failed three times at rehabilitation programmes.

"You are at least honest enough to tell the probation officer that you find the rehabilitation road is just too hard and you would prefer to go to prison."

Judge Walsh jailed Kelly for 12 months and remitted all his unpaid fines, but ordered him to pay $500 reparations for one householder's losses in the latest burglaries.

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