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March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
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Associating with Jewish Community Keeps Grave Vandal Out of Jail

By: JTA

A New Zealand man who admitted to desecrating Jewish graves with anti-Semitic graffiti at a historic cemetery in Auckland avoided prison because he has established bonds with the Jewish community.

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 for vandalizing more than a dozen headstones in the Jewish quarter of the SymondsStCemetery with swastikas, the numbers 88 – code for “Heil Hitler,” and anti-Israeli slogans.

Another man, also accused of desecrating the cemetery, is fighting the charges.

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.

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