6 Feb 2010

'Billy the Hunted' sentenced to 7 years' jail

6:34 am on 6 February 2010

The man who evaded police for months in mid-Canterbury, dubbing himself "Billy the Hunted One", has been sentenced to more than seven years in jail.

William Stewart avoided capture for three months after breaching his parole conditions, before he was arrested in May last year.

It was revealed at the Christchurch District Court on Friday that Stewart was on parole for violence and kidnapping offences when he went on the run.

Stewart pleaded guilty to 47 charges in October last year including burglary, escaping custody and possession of a firearm and drugs, involving about $350,000 of stolen property and damage.

Still with his trademark long hair but now clean-shaven, Stewart addressed the court saying he was genuinely sorry for his actions and would like to meet his victims so they can realise he is just a normal person.

"It was never my intention to hurt or inconvenience anyone, but I realise through my actions this might have occurred and for this I'm deeply sorry.

"I'm open and willing that they can get anything they want to off their chest and just see me as a normal person."

His lawyer, Glenn Henderson, said Stewart describes his escape as surreal and a bit of game that got out of control, as opposed to premeditated offending.

Judge Stephen Erber said Stewart was manipulative and his offending was in part due to his vanity and enjoyment of the publicity.

Stewart received a sentence of seven years four months in jail, with a non-parole period of four years 10 months. He was ordered to pay reparation of $75,000 to his victims.