Restorative justice at work

Tony Wall at the SST reports:

The Jewish community has taken pity on one of the youths who desecrated graves at a cemetery in Auckland with Nazi symbols – causing worldwide outrage – and is even offering to pay his university tuition fees so he can turn his life around.

Robert Moulden, 19, pleaded guilty to a charge of intentional damage in the Auckland District Court last year and will be sentenced next month. His co-accused, Christian Landmark, 20, has pleaded not guilty and appears in court again on Tuesday.

More than a dozen headstones in the Jewish quarter of the Symonds St Cemetery were vandalised with images of swastikas and expletive-ridden anti-Israeli messages on October 19. It is proving incredibly difficult to remove paint from the porous headstones, which date back to the 19th century, and the repair job could cost as much as $50,000.

Moulden is a beneficiary, lives in a hostel in central Auckland, and says he has no family support. He has gone through a restorative justice programme with members of the Jewish community, has been taught about the Holocaust and has even gone to one member’s house for a Friday night Shabbat dinner.

The chairman of the Jewish Council of New Zealand, Geoff Levy, confirmed that during a restorative justice meeting offers were made to pay for Moulden to attend engineering courses at AUT University.

“When we asked him what he wanted to do with himself he expressed a desire to follow engineering if he could,” Levy said. “We’ve given this young man a chance to respond to the offers, and we’ve appointed someone to liaise with him to see whether he can be helped, or wants to be helped.

“He’s going to have to want to do something himself. If we can help him, we’re happy to do that. But it’s got to be consistent with realising the damage he’s done, paying the price that society demands of him and making sure it will not happen again.

“Hopefully we can provide him with support, mentoring and assistance in getting an education, so that he will be able to make the best decisions next time when faced with a choice.”

If this occurs, that is an excellent outcome.

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