Hollywood star Christopher Whitelaw Pine needed no introduction when he stood in the dock of the Ashburton District Court to admit a charge of drink driving charges this morning.
On what should have been a regular court list sitting, Judge Joanna Maze, court officials and those scheduled to appear were faced with a barrage of cameras and journalists.
Police prosecutor sergeant Mike Wingfield told the court Pine was caught driving with 113 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in the early hours of March 1 in at a check point in Methven.
Pine claimed he had consumed four vodkas.
The legal limit for adult drivers in New Zealand is 80 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
Pine had been in the district for the filming of his latest movie Z for Zachariah, and had just left a party at the Blue Pub in Methven.
Ashburton lawyer Marilyn Gilchrist, who represented Pine, asked for a discharge without conviction.
Despite all the international interest, a conviction would outweigh the gravity of the offence,” she said.
She pointed to the difficulties he would have entering Canada, with visa restrictions.
Judge Maze acknowledged Pine had made a considerable donation to Cure Kids, and his previous good record.
“This issue of a visa will be a complication, but you’re no different to other people who may wish to travel to Canada,” Judge Maze said
He was convicted and ordered to pay $93 in reparation for the cost of blood tests. He was also disqualified from driving for six months. No fine was imposed because he had already made a donation to Cure Kids which was approximately four times the likely fine.
Before Pine appeared Judge Maze heard applications from media at a special sitting to determine who would be allowed in the court room.
Ms Gilchrist argued the overwhelming interest in the matter was salacious and sensational, claiming the public only needed to know the outcome of the hearing.
Media representatives in the gallery were warned about breaching instructions pertaining to the use of electronic equipment.
Submissions were made by various media outlets. Martin Van Beynan argued that interest was heightened by Mr Pine’s fame.
“Do I take you are here to photograph each and every person here today to appear on a drink driving charge?” Judge Maze asked.
“No your Honour,”
“Why do you need a photograph when you can get a photo from your own resources.” Judge Maze said.
“It doesn’t convey the context – we can use a file photo but doesn’t present the reality.” Mr Van Beynan said.
Judge Maze agreed to allow the use of laptops in the gallery.
Ms Gilchrist submitted that she had not heard any overwhelming argument in favour of any media applications, bar the local representatives.
Judge Maze said that all applications were late and did not comply with the guidelines.