MARTY SHARPE AND MATT STEWART
Last updated 17:03, February 21 2017
Frank Lovich was convicted by Judge Bridget Mackintosh in Hastings District Court on Monday.
A beggar has been convicted of fraud for begging for food and shelter while on a benefit.
Prolific Hastings beggar Frank Lovich is no stranger to the city's streets, or to the local court, but usually it involves low level nuisance offending.
The 53-year-old has clocked up close to 300 such convictions dating back to 1980.
Lovich is a often seen begging in the Hastings city centre
On Monday in Hastings District Court he pleaded guilty to 16 more, including a first for him of fraud.
He was convicted under Section 15 of the Summary Offences Act, which states that offenders can be jailed for up to three months or fined up to $1000 if they solicit, gather, or collects alms, subscriptions, or contributions by means of any false pretence.
Lovich's fraud occurred on the afternoon of November 16 last year. He went to the Bay City Plaza mall in Hastings, despite having a bail condition barring him from going there.
He sat holding a sign begging for money for food and shelter and according to a police summary of facts he was purporting to be homeless.
"The defendant is paid $380 per week by WINZ and has a home in Hastings," the summary said.
Lovich managed to collect a few dollars before he was approached by a member of the public who knew his pretence to be false.
He became abusive and stormed off. Police found him in the city centre a short time later and arrested him after a short struggle.
Lovich admitted the facts and said WINZ did not give him enough money.
His other offending included trespassing on another mall, wilful damage, resisting arrest, disorderly behaviour and committing an indecent act with the intention to offend. The last occurred in a police cell after he had jammed the toilet and flooded the cell.
Lovich appeared via video link from Hawke's Bay Prison. His lawyer Anthony Willis told judge Bridget Mackintosh Lovich would like a sentencing indication and sought one of four months prison, adding that he had effectively served it as he has been in custody for the past three.
The judge said that was too light a sentence for the offending and said nine months was more appropriate. Lovich accepted that and pleaded guilty. The judge ordered a pre-sentence report and told him to reappear for sentence in April.
Sergeant Cameron Donnison said Lovich had a long history of offending. Police were not about to start charging all beggars with fraud, and Lovich was a special case that required this approach.
A Ministry of Social Development spokesman said the issue of begging on streets was led by local councils.
"We endeavour to ascertain a client's financial position as we assess what assistance we can provide them. We rely on clients to provide an honest and full account of their current financial position, including any current sources of income," he said.
Lawmakers and councils around the country grapple with the issue of begging and how to deal with it.
Managing director of Wellington's First Retail Group, Chris Wilkinson, said recent coverage of begging had socialised the issue but solutions needed to be found through councils and social agencies rather than punishments.
Wilkinson said Wellington was leading the way in tackling begging, which was often clouded by drug and alcohol dependency.
The group supported initiatives like communal 'wet houses' for homeless alcoholics and drug addicts as proposed by Wellington City Council as well as other strategies underway to tackle the problem.
Director of Wellington's Downtown Community Ministry, Stephanie McIntyre, said begging was a complex phenomenon.
The one-on-one act of begging and receiving was not the most effective way to deal with the problem.
"The best thing is to support and encourage people to liaise with agencies - then we can get to the bottom of this complex situation."
But the big issue confronting social agencies was a huge under-supply of affordable housing.
"It's these sorts of phenomena that are driving begging," McIntyre said.
I am not sure how *contributions* are defined by the courts ...but MSD do have a comprehensive lists which deal with non-monetary items & gifts etc Please be aware that some material likely needs to be clarified further with casemanagers
eg the link Trusts takes to the following information
However, some of the links in Map direct staff to the procedures that they need to follow. These procedures, which are not part of Map, are only available internally on our intranet.