Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

The robbery that was and wasn’t

The robbery that was and wasn’t

A 30-year-old Hampstead man pled guilty to falsely reporting an aggravated robbery to police, despite telling his duty lawyer that the robbery did take place.

Cameron Roger Leahy appeared before Community Magistrate Russell Bagley in the Ashburton District Court on Tuesday.

Leahy instructed duty lawyer Tiffany McRae to enter a guilty plea on a charge of making a false allegation of an aggravated robbery on April 23.

However, Leahy told McRae that the robbery did occur and the allegation was not false.

After making a report to police Leahy realised he did not want to be involved in a court case and “drama that might flow from that” and then told police his statement was not true, McRae said.

Leahy was serving a supervision sentence for drug and alcohol issues and acknowledged drugs and alcohol were the cause of his significant criminal history, she said.

Bagley said Leahy had made a police statement that resulted in someone being arrested.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail or a fine of $2000. However, the magistrate gave Leahy a suspended sentence. The sentence will fall away if Leahy was not back in court within nine months. But if Leahy was back in court within that time the matter would be called up for sentence.

***Shoplifting and theft

A Netherby woman admitted a charge of stealing a black strapless top from an Ashburton store on May 5, but was remanded without plea on two new charges.

Marjorie Leeann Gill, 45, is accused of stealing a donation box with an estimated worth of $100 from the Ashburton District Council on July 10. She is also jointly charged with another person for stealing a second donation box worth $100 from Harvey’s Bakehouse on July 12.

At her last appearance, Gill asked to have her bail condition to report to police on Fridays (in addition to on Mondays and Wednesdays) removed. This time she asked to have the condition changed to report once a week.

Bagley reduced Gill’s reporting conditions. She will appear again on September 12.

****Costly peer pressure

A young Netherby man had no intention to drive after a rugby match and was safely at home when a friend repeatedly called to ask for a lift.

A decision to give into that peer pressure landed the 19-year-old with his first drink driving conviction, with a reading that bumped him straight to an interlock sentence.

Matthew Jayden Giles, 19, admitted drink driving on June 25 on West Street, along with charges of dangerous driving and failing to stop for police.

A blood test showed he had 235mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Duty lawyer Gretchen Hart said Giles was extremely remorseful for his lack of judgment and had made changes in his life including moving back home to save money for the anticipated fine and using a scooter for travel.

On the night of the incident, Giles was drinking at the rugby club rooms and got a ride home.

When a friend contacted him and asked him to pick him up, Giles declined. But after repeated requests, he went to pick up the friend.

Hart said Giles was given a copy of the summary of facts but thought he was not supposed to open it. When he opened it in court before his hearing he was surprised to read he had “veered towards police” at an alcohol checkpoint.

He has no recollection of this and it is not something he would usually consider a good idea, Hart said.

Bagley said the drink driving, with a very high reading, was the most serious of Giles’ three charges.

The summary of facts said Giles was driving a BMW on West Street just after midnight. The police were conducting breath tests on West Street with the area marked with cones and flashing lights.

Giles did not stop for police, made no attempt to slow down, and aimed the BMW towards the police.

“They had to take evasive action to avoid being hit,” the magistrate said.

Giles was fined a total of $1000, plus court costs, doctor’s fees and blood analysis fees – and given an interlock sentence. This means Giles is disqualified from driving for 28 days. After that, he can apply for a 12-month interlock licence and then a three-year zero alcohol licence.

****Second conviction

An attempt to help friends landed a 38-year-old “speedster” with her second drink driving conviction.

Tracey Ann Rea, 38, blew 559mcg of alcohol per litre of breath when tested by police on SH1 near Hinds on April 8.

She told the community magistrate that she tried to help friends, but it backfired.

Rea has one prior drink driving conviction dating back to 2002.

When the magistrate asked about her demerit history Rea admitted she was “a speedster”.

Rea was fined $400 plus court costs of $130 and disqualified from driving for six months.

****No disqualification

Rakaia man Paul Douglas Walters, 35, escaped a driving disqualification for his second drink driving conviction.

Walters blew 527mcg when stopped by police at 7.22pm on Bridge Street in Rakaia on May 9.

Duty lawyer Tiffany McRae asked Bagley to consider an application to impose a community-based sentence to make it easier for Walters to continue to see his children.

Walters was sentenced to 40 hours’ community work and nine months of supervision to assist with any alcohol issues.

*****Driving reported to police

A Netherby man who thought he’d slept off boozing until 4am was reported to police for erratic driving.

Christopher Jacob Altenburg, 26, was pulled over by police just after 8am on the Rakaia Highway on July 8. He blew 713mcg in a breath test.

McRae said Altenburg had been in Christchurch for a night out with friends. He’d slept for a few hours, had some food, and thought he would be okay to drive.

She said the incident had been a wake-up call and Altenburg was seeking help to deal with alcohol issues.

Altenburg was fined $600 plus court costs and disqualified from driving for six months.

***Not worn off

A Dorie man also miscalculated how long it takes for alcohol to work through the system.

Andrew James Booker, 25, returned a blood-alcohol test of 112mg when stopped by police at 10.20pm on Methven Chertsey Road on July 15.

Duty lawyer Claire Yardley said Booker had miscalculated and thought the alcohol he had consumed would have worn off.

He was fined $450 plus court costs and costs associated with the blood analysis and disqualified from driving for six months.

****On the cusp

A man under 20 just escaped with a three-month disqualification for drink driving. He blew 400mcg. Just 1mcg more would have bumped the disqualification to six months.

Kaeleb Russell Evans, 18, was stopped by police on July 7.

After a lecture on the dangers of drink driving Evan was fined $300 and disqualified from driving for three months.

“Let’s not see you back here again,” Bagley said.

Matthew John Moore, 18, also blew 400mcg when stopped by police on July 6 on Alford Forest Road

He admitted a charge of drink driving and will appear again on September 12.

*****Drug driving

Tinwald man Michael John Cooper, 32, faces a charge of driving under the influence of drugs on East Street on February 5.

He was remanded without plea and is back in court on September 12.

******Careless driving

Chontelle Lea Barnett, 25, admitted careless driving causing injury on Grahams Road on June 6.

McRae said Barnett had been driving home in the fog and failed to see a bend in the road. Her partner was a passenger in the car and was injured in the crash.

Barnett was convicted and disqualified from driving for six months.

******Not that cruisy

Cruise control caused some issues for Juhyeon Nam while driving a rental Tesla to Mt Cook and landed the 21-year-old with a dangerous driving charge.

McRae said Nam had not planned to drive but took over when his friend was not feeling well.

He was not familiar with the car and did not know how to disengage the cruise control.

McRae said Nam accelerated to pass vehicles rather than hit them and wasn’t trying to be dangerous.

Bagley said Nam was driving south and crossed the yellow lines into the northbound passing lane at 140km passing several vehicles.

“You shouldn’t have been driving if you weren’t familiar with the vehicle. It’s very lucky no one was hurt,” Bagley said.

Nam was fined $650 and disqualified from driving for six months.

*****Indefinitely disqualified

Kaiden Shane Mitchel Boardman, 18, was stopped by police on Park Street and found to be driving while disqualified on June 30.

The court was told Boardman was indefinitely disqualified until an interlock device was fitted to his car.

He was fined $450 and disqualified for six months, after which Boardman could apply for an interlock licence.

*******Driving while suspended

Tinwald man Mervyn Kerry Anthony Smith, 48, admitted driving while suspended on SH1 near Timaru on May 19.

He was remanded to October 10 to allow him to apply for a community-based sentence rather than disqualification.

******Community work

Jamie Allen Reid,19, was given a sentence of 40 hours’ community work on a charge of sustained loss of traction near the Tinwald Domain on November 23.

Reid had applied for a community-based sentence which was to go ahead if Reid obtained his licence, Paid $500 to the Tinwald Domain and remained out of trouble.

*****Two warrants

Community Magistrate Russell Bagley issued two warrants for arrest for men who failed to attend court. Timaru man James Robert Lindsay,32, failed to appear on a charge of sustained loss of traction on McMurdo Street, while Pere Mataiti, 37, from Netherby, was due to face a charge of driving while suspended.

By Sharon Davis