A young man who admitted receiving stolen beehives worth thousands of dollars has been spared jail.
Justin Howes, 21, earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of receiving and appeared for sentencing in the Whangarei District Court yesterday.
The charges relate to a total of 85 beehives worth $27,000 taken from beekeepers in Kerikeri, Wellsford and Kamo earlier this year.
Judge Greg Davis said the chances of the victims receiving reparation if Howes was sent to prison was minimal or nil.
Between August 25 and September 6 and 5 last year, Judge Davis said 52 beehives were stolen from a farm east of Hikurangi and from a rural property near Warkworth.
In late September, Kerinectar placed 33 beehives in an isolated farm at State Highway 12 near Rawene, which were discovered stolen on October 4.
The Whangarei Bee Club decided to conduct an investigation after it became concerned at the amount of beehives stolen in Northland.
Judge Davis said on November 4, club members located a number of hives in an isolated farm at Matapouri that had been put there by Howes several weeks ago.
Several hives had been altered and had phone numbers of its owners painted over.
A further site was located on a farm between Ngunguru and Tutukaka.
Enquiries led club members to a building at Te Kopuru where Howes had set up a business to produce honey.
Stolen beehives were located in the building.
Howes denied stealing the beehives, saying he bought some of the hives from a person on the side of the road for $13,600.
He produced two receipts which he claimed were given to him by the seller but they were later ascertained to be written by him.
His lawyer John Day submitted an appropriate sentence was community work, with an order for some reparation to be paid at $20 a week.
Judge Davis said $20 a week would be scant comfort for the victims. He ordered that he pay in total $7500 at $40 a week.
Howes was also ordered to perform 400 hours community work.
In November 2010, Howes was sentenced to four months' community detention after he broke into two Northland wildlife sanctuaries and stole 26 geckos.