The theft of a large display of medals, including multiple Victoria Crosses, created a huge uproar in New Zealand. We've been following the story as it unfolded. This week the thief was sentenced to prison for his crime. Several articles appeared in New Zealand publications this week. Here are some excerpts from one of them.
Waiouru medal thief James Joseph Kapa wiped tears from his eyes today as he was sent to prison for six years for a crime which shocked the nation.
The tears meant nothing to the director of the Waiouru Army Museum or to the daughter of the country's greatest war hero, Charles Upham.
"This crime tore the heart out of every New Zealander apart from the criminals who committed it," museum director Colonel (retired) Ray Seymour said in an emotional address to Judge Graham Hubble in Auckland District Court.
He was reading a victim impact report shortly before Kapa was jailed for six years on one charge of burglary after he and Ronald van Wakeren broke into the museum at Waiouru in December, 2007, and stole 96 medals, including the Victoria Cross and bar won by Charles Upham, the only combat soldier in the world to have twice won the Commonwealth's highest bravery award.
In court today, Col Seymour said "the nation was quite rightly so angry anyone could have had the audacity to commit such a heinous crime".
During the sentencing crown prosecutor Deb Bell said the medals had been valued at $5.5 million but the crown believed they were priceless and of immense significance to all New Zealanders.
Judge Hubble told Kapa the medals were New Zealand icons and the sentencing of Kapa would be a deterrent against people who "meddle with New Zealand icons".
To read the complete article, see:
Army Medal Theft `Tore The Heart Out' Of A Nation
Wayne Homren, Editor
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