A grandmother-of-three who was robbed of sentimental family heirlooms and irreplaceable possessions has been left devastated after learning the man who stole from her was released from jail just three weeks into his 16-month sentence.
Trudi Bishop is piecing her life back together after her former husband's nephew, Jason Collier, took advantage of his access to her home while she was overseas.
The 63-year-old says the emotional turmoil caused resulted in the end of her 33-year marriage when Collier stole the precious items from her home where he was staying over a period of four months.
Bishop's family told Newshub Collier is a "vile thief" who has no remorse and the short sentence he served is no punishment for his "premeditated and continuous" actions.
In February 2020, Bishop "dropped everything" when she rushed to Perth to be by her sick brother's side.
His health improved, but by then the swell of COVID-19 had resulted in travel restrictions, preventing Bishop from returning home for four months.
During this period she says Collier, her now ex-husband's nephew, was staying at her home for free after he fell on hard times.
Initially he was using the couple's van and asked if he could park in the driveway to sleep at night before it was agreed that as it got colder Collier could stay on the couch.
Bishop says meanwhile, throughout that time, he was stealing and selling items from the house behind their backs at times when he was left alone in the house.
Collier admits he took opportunities to steal from the property, and attempted to sell the items for drug money.
In June, a week before she returned from Australia, Bishop's husband got home from work to find their sliding door broken, TV gone and two previously locked bedroom doors smashed open.
"These doors had been locked since I left with no keys in the house, items from both bedrooms had been thrown everywhere," Bishop said.
The police were called and while they were assessing the break in, Collier turned up. When he was questioned by officers he stated he was on bail for a separate matter to Bishop's address.
As no one living at the home was aware of this, Collier was taken into custody for breaching his bail conditions.
When Bishop returned to her home three days later from quarantine, she was shocked to realise her irreplaceable jewellery and possessions were missing.
Shortly after, Bishop learned of news that Collier had been trying to sell her precious items around town.
Word had quickly spread about the items' disappearance and family friends were soon well aware of suspicions around Collier. It was then learned pieces of jewellery he had been trying to sell to people known to him were not in fact from a storage shed he was helping to clean up, as he had been telling people, and some were returned to Bishop.
Police then discovered a large amount that had been sold to cash converters which was linked to Collier.
As Bishop made every attempt to find out the whereabouts of the rest of her property, she was passed some screenshots of messages between Collier and one of his friends who was in the dark about the legitimate owner of the jewellery.
Collier, a father of eight children, had also given a $22,000 ring to a friend, who passed it on to another friend, who then returned it to Bishop when it was discovered it was part of the stolen goods.
Bishop says Collier saw an opportunity to "satisfy his personal greedy needs without a care in the world for anyone else" - the damage of which she says has been extensive.
The stress cost Bishop her marriage of 33 years and her daughter told Newshub Collier's "heartless, selfish actions" has left her mother with the highest level of emotional stress feeling intimidated, deeply depressed and violated.
She says she lives in complete devastation and heartache, and is incapable of feeling peace again in her once loved and happy home.
Collier was charged with theft of his ex-dwelling in excess of $1000 and convicted in the Rotorua District Court with a prison sentence handed down of one year and four months.
But after serving just three weeks, his sentence was cancelled and substituted with home detention. Bishop was notified via a phone call one day after his release, but had been told she would be informed before of any changes to the sentence. She then received a letter in the mail confirming he would be on home detention.
The family say they have been struggling to accept this result.
Collier told Newshub his application for home detention was granted after serving three weeks. He is now on "24/7 lockdown" with an ankle bracelet, living at an approved address and is completing his programmes and rehab until July.
Darroch Ball, co-leader of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, told Newshub Collier's situation is not unique, and reflects a justice process that has little consideration for victims.
"If you've got an offender who has stolen and abused and taken for granted this one victim in particular, and they get three weeks - what sort of deterrent is that? What sort of justice is that or accountability is that for the offender? It's a laughing stock."
He says the decision reflects the "offender-centric" nature of the entire justice system.
"It's all about the offender's past, all about the offender rehabilitation, all about the offender's criminal history or cultural history or how it's going to affect the offender, everything is about the offender and how it's going to impact the offender, and there is very little - if any - concentration or focus on the victims of crime."
Bishop's daughter says Collier's actions in the aftermath and the robbery will continue to affect her mum's life for the foreseeable future.
"This is a life sentence that she does not deserve. If only she could have carried on about her normal life after such a short period of just 3 weeks just as her violator Jason has, but no.
"She struggles to soldier on through the broken sometimes sleepless nights, newfound jumpiness, and worse, the uttermost uncomfortable feeling she has been left with in her own home, where she once was feeling so safe and cosy in her happy place."
Collier admits he did enter the locked room multiple times. He claims he did so at a time when while under the influence of methamphetamine.
According to his criminal and traffic history, Collier has had multiple issues with the law before.
Collier fatally struck cyclist Ben Den Ouden in Napier while operating a truck he was driving for work on April 21 2017. He had been driving trucks for 22 years when he killed Den Ouden who had only recently returned to New Zealand after finishing a Masters degree in religious anthropology in the Netherlands. He had been planning to become a teacher when he died.
Collier was convicted and sentenced for careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing death in May, 2018, and was ordered to pay $1500 in reparation but was not disqualified from driving.