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Charges denied

Charges denied

An Ashburton man denied four sex charges with an underage girl when he appeared before Judge Dominic Dravitzki in the Ashburton District court on Monday.

Organiser Iele Laupa’E, 37, faces three charges of sexual violation of a girl under 12 and one of unlawful sexual connection.

The offences were allegedly committed between 2019 and 2021.

Lele Laupa’E pleaded not guilty and elected to have a judge-alone trial. He will appear again on March 18.

Judge Dravitzki said there were no grounds for ongoing name suppression for Iele Laupa’E except to protect the complainant. After checking that her caregiver was not not opposed to publication, Judge Dravitzki ruled that interim name suppression would not continue.

Assault, wounding denied

Rueben Mcgregor Sivaivai, 30, pleaded not guilty to a charge of wounding one man and assaulting second man on November 30 last year.

Lawyer Cory Shaw said Sivaivai elected to have a judge-alone trial.

He will appear again on March 18.

Community detention sentence

A 66-year-old man was given a community detention sentence for driving while disqualified twice in one month.

Gary David Snelling admitted driving while disqualified on November 7 and 23 last year.

He'd been disqualified for three months on September 19 as part of a sentence for several petrol drive-off thefts.

Lawyer Jennifer North applied for a discharge without conviction. She said Snelling did not expect a disqualification when he was sentenced for the petrol thefts.

North said Snelling was the caregiver for his partner, who suffered from a chronic medical condition.

Snelling admitted to the judge that he was aware of the disqualification on the second date in November.

"There was a vital medical appointment – and I really didn’t know what else to do," Snelling said.

Judge Dravitzki said this was Snelling's eighth and ninth conviction for driving while disqualified - although his last conviction was almost exactly nine years ago.

He sentenced Snelling to four months' community detention with a 7pm to 7am curfew and did not impose a further disqualification.

Drink driving admitted

Monica Louise Rangiahuia, 39, pleaded guilty to a charge of drink driving. She blew 551 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath when stopped by police on the Pleasant Point Highway on January 1.

She will appear again on April 8.

Last chance

A woman was given one last chance to get her restricted licence before being sentenced.

Natasha Christine Ranson, 32, appeared on a charge of driving while her licence was suspended on Chalmers Avenue on April 11, 2023, and a charge of careless driving on East Street on July 18 last year.

Duty lawyer Paul Norcross said he had hoped to apply for a community-based sentence rather than a further disqualification. However, Ranson was not allowed to sit her restricted test because her licence was suspended due to demerit points.

Her case was remanded to May 20 to allow her to get her licence.

Charges denied

Seamus Anthony Lucas was remanded in custody after denying four charges.

The police allege the 42-year-old had methamphetamine, a bong for the use of methamphetamine, an offensive weapon and instruments for burglary in his possession on January 13.

Lucas will appear again on March 18 when he will elected whether to have a jury or judge-alone trial.

Family violence admitted

Pauline Michelle Michie, 33, pleaded guilty to a charge of strangulation and a charge of assault on a person with whom she had a family relationship on January 15.

She was remanded to allow for restorative justice and pre-sentence and will appear in court again on April 8.

Application denied

Judge Dravitzki denied an application to have a sentence cancelled.

Riley Lynton Molloy, 20, applied to cancel his community detention and supervision sentence so he could head to Australia for work.

Molloy was sentenced to four months' community detention and nine months' supervision on a raft of driving charges on December 11, 2023.

"One of the purposes of sentencing is to hold you to account and to deter others. This is moderately serious offending – you need to complete the penal aspect of the sentence."

Judge Dravitzki denied Molloy's application to cancel his community detention but did cancel his supervision sentence to allow him to go to Australia for work as soon as his community detention was complete.

Guilty plea

Allenton woman Dwana Timutimu, 31, admitted driving while disqualified on Farm Road on November 22 last year.

Lawyer Gretchen Hart asked the judge to withhold conviction to allow for an application for a community-based sentence instead of a further disqualification.

Timutimu will appear again on March 18.

Legal costs declined

An application for $5338 in legal costs was declined after a judge found the police acted in good faith.

Mark Gintaras Seale, 25, was charged with careless driving causing injury in June 2022. However, his case was dismissed in August last year after Judge Dravitzki ruled his defence was prejudiced after police took 18 weeks to inform Seale he was subject to an investigation.

Seale's lawyer Todd Nicholls applied for an award of costs for the time he spent preparing for Seale's defence after a point, he argued, that police had been advised of alleged issues with their investigation and elected to proceed.

Judge Dravitzki said Seale had been driving a light truck towing a heavy grain transfer trailer, when he failed to stop at an intersection with State Highway One.

Seale told police that his vehicle had been pushed into the intersection by the trailer and suspected an issue with the brakes on either his vehicle or the trailer he was towing.

"He heard nothing more for 18 weeks very shortly before he was formally charged... That delay lost Seale the opportunity to undertake his own independent testing of the vehicles involved which was prejudicial to him. I dismissed the charge accordingly," Dravitzki said.

The judge said the police had investigated the brakes and found nothing wrong. It was that investigation that caused the delay in charges.

While the delay in advising Seale he was under investigation "was real potential prejudice for Seale, the rest of the prosecution proceeded in a careful and orderly manner", the judge said.

He found there were no just and reasonable grounds to award costs.

Community work commuted

Judge Dravitzki approved an application to commute a community work sentence to a fine.

Hinds man Simonia Paul John, 41, was sentenced on a charge of possessing heroin and buying amphetamine in the Christchurch District Court in January. He asked to commute the community work part of his sentence to a fine.

Duty lawyer Paul Bradford said community work in Ashburton was only available on Saturdays and John had to work on Saturdays and stood to lose his job.

Judge Dravitzki converted the community work to a $2500 fine.

Consequences unavoidable

A man was told he could not avoid the consequences of demerit points from a speeding fine.

Toby Jack Roberts, 31, requested a court hearing to avoid a driving suspension when he paid a $80 speeding fine and the demerit points kicked in.

Duty lawyer Paul Norcross said Roberts hoped to do community work instead.

However, Judge Dravitzki said the demerit point regime operated independently from the courts and there is no scope for him to take a different approach.

"Demerits follow speeding as night follows day," he said.

Roberts' original $80 speeding infringement was imposed as a fine.

Diversion on the table

A Netherby man was offered a chance to complete diversion to avoid a criminal conviction.

Oliver Raymond Taylor, 20, admitted taking a vehicle for his own purposes and three charges of theft for using a Mobil fuel to buy fuel.

Judge Dravitzki entered Taylor's guilty pleas and withheld conviction.

"If you complete the diversion matters successfully, you won’t be convicted,: the judge said.

Taylor will appear again on May 20.

Charge denied

Rakaia man James Jay Mavor, 35, denied driving while disqualified on Elizabeth Avenue on November 14 last year.

He will appear again on March 18.

Warrants issued

Judge Dravitzki issued two arrest warrants for people who failed to appear in the Ashburton District Court on Monday.

Mount Cook man Jone Vakarewa Delaibatiki, 36, failed to appear on a drink driving charge after blowing 684mcg when stopped by police on Archibald Street on November 23 last year.

The judge was not satisfied that Dorie woman, Aimee Elizabeth Mcgregor, 37, had car trouble that prevented her from attending court on a charge of obtaining $1050 by deception in Oamaru on July 15, 2023.

Sergeant Whyte said Mcgregor had claimed to be unwell and unable to attend court the last time she was due in court.

The judge declined to excuse Mcgregor's non-attendance and issued a warrant.

By Sharon Davis