February 28, 2013
New Zealand Jewish grave vandal avoids prison
A New Zealand man who admitted to desecrating Jewish graves with anti-Semitic graffiti at a historic cemetery in Auckland avoided prison.
Robert Moulden, 19, was sentenced by Judge Russell Collins in Auckland District Court Wednesday to 320 hours of community service work. He was also ordered to pay about $2,500 in reparations.
Moulden pleaded guilty to a charge of willful damage in November. Another man, also accused of desecrating the cemetery, is fighting the charges.
During the sentencing, the judge said the community work should include work with Auckland Council's graffiti team.
More than a dozen headstones in the Jewish quarter of the Symonds St Cemetery were vandalized with swastikas, the numbers 88 – code for "Heil Hitler," and anti-Israeli slogans on Oct. 19.
The Jewish community offered restorative justice with Moulden. One family invited him for Shabbat dinner, and others offered financial assistance with his education.
"To your credit, you were willing to engage with the Jewish community and a more extraordinary outcome is the forgiving nature of the members of the Jewish community," Judge Collins said.
"Their forgiveness of you needs to be admired considering how wounding and distressing your actions were."
Auckland Council has spent about $10,000 on trying to repair the vandalism, but some of the vandalism is irreparable, according to local media, with the damage estimated to cost some $23,000.