Airport puzzle on charge sheet
September 4, 2012. By David Clarkson
An unemployed 35-year-old man who breached a trespass order twice on successive days and stole a sweatshirt off a clothesline at the same address, was fined a total of $600.
But the interesting part of the case was his address.
He’s listed as “No fixed abode, Christchurch Airport”.
What’s going on out there?
Are some of the city’s homeless sneaking in to the terminal to spend the night dossed down among the backpackers in transit, perhaps?
Party rivalry leads to assault
September 4, 2012. By David Clarkson
Party rivalry led to a woman having her nose broken and another woman appearing in court.
The incident happened at an address in Blenheim Road on February 18, when there were parties happening upstairs and downstairs.
A woman threw a patio chair down from the upstairs party.
No-one was hurt, but the partygoers down below started throwing things back up.
When she realised she had started something, the woman went down to the flat below to apologise and cool things down.
Ebony Sheree Jessie Rapana met her at the door, punched her several times, and broke her nose.
She pleaded guilty to an assault charge in Christchurch District Court before Judge Phil Gittos.
Defence counsel Paul Johnson said Rapana was now a serving prisoner and was “making a good fist of her time in prison”. She was doing reintegration and anger management programmes.
“I’m not sure that ‘making a good fist of it’ is the right expression, Mr Johnson,” said the judge.
“Bad choice of words,” Johnson replied.
Judge Gittos said it was a violent and disturbing assault on someone who just wanted to apologise.
It came on top of Rapana’s record of assault convictions, and she was now serving a jail term for another assault.
He added a month to her current sentence. She’s due for release early next year.
Frequent flyer at court has wings clipped
August 23, 2012. By David Clarkson
Christchurch is getting a few months’ break from its ultimate repeat offender.
In 2008, Terrence James Baker, known these days as Palmer, had 41 pages of computer print-out listing his previous convictions – perhaps 300 in total.
The 62-year-old has been adding to them steadily ever since.
He added four more to that list today, and another jail term.
He was jailed for six months by Christchurch District Court Judge Philip Moran after admitting charges of possessing an offensive weapon, assault, disorderly behaviour, and breaching his bail.
The offences on his record are mostly of that type, involving booze, thefts, assaults, and recently squatting in an abandoned red zone property.
When he found himself getting into difficult territory today – the police were heartily sick of his antics and were asking for a remand in custody – he pleaded guilty to get his sentence under way.
He gave the judge his usual goading, by saying he would accept his suggestion.
“I trust you. You get paid enough to do it,” said Palmer.
“That’s debatable,” said Judge Moran.
Police prosecutor Bronwen Skea said police were called to the Botanic Gardens because Palmer was seen by council staff to be harassing children. He was waving around an 8cm letter opener as he spoke to the staff.
He had also punched a trans-gender person during an argument at the City Mission.
Duty solicitor Nick Rout described Palmer as “a frequent visitor”. The assault was relatively minor, in a situation when there had been “pushing and shoving and abuse both ways”.
He had been “punctuating his conversation” with the letter opener at the gardens and accepted that his actions could have been seen as threatening.
Judge Moran said Palmer should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for the assault, because he said he assaulted his victim because he was “a trannie”. “You don’t hit people because of their sexual orientation, their race, or their religious beliefs.”
He imposed a series of sentences totalling six months jail.
Fines lesson is escaping 19-year-old
August 22, 2012. By David Clarkson
A judge wondered what a 19-year-old was learning from repeatedly getting into trouble and stacking up fines.
“He should have learned one or two lessons in life by now,” said Judge Gus AndreeWiltens, a Manukau judge who was sitting in the Christchurch District Court this week.
The teen had ended up in custody for his court appearance – which may be the best lesson so far – after failing to appear for a summons to the fines court.
He had stacked up $22,000 in fines which was swapped for community detention in 2009, presumably because there was no chance he could pay it.
Since then he has amassed another $14,000 in fines which he also couldn’t pay, and he was asking for that to be converted to community detention as well.
Judge AndreeWiltens was having none of that.
It would have imposed a curfew on him at home. He would have been working off his fines while he was sleeping.
“There’s no punishment involved in that whatsoever, as far as I can see,” said the judge.
He asked for information about the youth’s earnings, in his work for an EQC repairs contractor.
He was earning $490 a week – enough money for a sizeable weekly offer of repayment.
So from now on he will have to fork over $180 a fortnight, or face the judge’s warning that he’ll end up in prison in place of his unpaid fines.
“It seems to me he’s brought it all on his own head,” said the judge.
A different approach to parenting skills
By David Clarkson and Anne Clarkson. August 1, 2011
This woman was never going to get bail, even after her spectacular display of parenting skills when she appeared on remand at a court sitting inside the Christchurch Men’s Prison.
Apparently prostitutes were going to her house to inject drugs. The woman maintained it was safer for them to do it there rather than in some public place such as toilets.
She was also accused of allowing her house to be used for turning morphine into heroin.
She was already on bail on drug offences when she ended up back in custody for possession of class A and C drugs, and chemicals for drug manufacture.
She admitted being a heroin user herself, but the breathtaking line at her bail application was that she only allowed her home to be used for making heroin at a time when her child was at school.
Judge Michael Crosbie decided that there was a risk, given issues about the woman’s child and her lifestyle, and ordered her held in custody for another week.
A Christchurch lawyer tells this month of taking on a case for a elderly client with a very long history of offending. The print-out of his record showed that in the early days of his career he was convicted of “being a rogue and a vagabond”.
A man flew into a towering rage when he was visiting his on-again off-again partner at her Christchurch house, and she got a phone call which indicated two-timing going on.
He smashed furniture and glass panels, which he had already paid for by the time he appeared at the court session at the Maori Land Court rooms, and then admitted an assault charge.
Defence counsel Karen Feltham put forward part of the explanation for the sudden rage: pre-mixed bourbon.
“The victim provided the Woodstock which seems to be the catalyst for a lot of the matters you see before the court,” she told Judge Colin Doherty who imposed 60 hours of community work.
Prisons have gone smoke-free this month. On the first day, a judge came into the courtroom inside the Christchurch Men’s Prison, bowed to the lawyers present as usual, and then asked, “Anyone got a fag?”
He was joking, of course, and there were no inmates in the room at the time.
At a later session at the Rangiora Court House, a young offender told Judge David Saunders that he had given up cannabis but he had not yet been able to give up tobacco.
The judge gave him some insight into the new regime behind the prison walls, saying: “If I send you to jail today you will have to give up smoking cold turkey. You will get carrot sticks in its place.”
Steven Anthony Paul Emery’s unsuccessful armed robbery attempt at a diary led to a jail term which has just been lengthened to cope with his impressive total of unpaid fines.
The 23-year-old was found guilty last year of demanding money with menaces for the knife-point attempted robbery at a St Albans dairy in 2010.
He got three years four months’ jail, and recently came before Judge Stephen Erber in the prison to ask about converting his $16,495 in fines into more jail time so that he could get a fresh start on his release, which could be early next year.
Judge Erber gave him an extra three months, and still didn’t touch the additional $3154 he also owes in unpaid reparations.
Another chap came before the court at Rangiora with $37,000 in unpaid fines. Judge Jane Farish swapped $10,000 of them for 150 hours of community work for the man who is not working but is supporting a partner and five children, including a new-born baby.
If he gets the community work done without any breaches he’ll get another $5000 off and the judge remitted the enforcement fees – another $10,358.
If he gets through that, he can ask about the rest of them. “And then you can spend your money on your children rather than these stupid fines,” said the judge.
But there’s a catch. This excellent deal is off if he gets any fresh fines.
It’s not exactly a practice note, but it would be a good idea for lawyers to get Judge David Saunders’ message that they should never use the words “I am counsel assigned” in court.
He is at least the second judge to take up the issue in Christchurch, with a view to presumably putting in-court representation on an equal footing.
Judges really don’t want to know whether the lawyer speaking in court is being paid for by the person in the dock, or by the Legal Aid budget.
Judge Saunders made that clear at a Christchurch sitting at Rangiora where the lawyer involved ended up apologising to the judge, and to her client.
The question probably is, how will lawyers introduce themselves in court when the Public Defender Service starts up in Christchurch?
A glimpse of one possible future
Gun battles between drug gangs, mass executions. And now they are building armoured vehicles to fight each other. We should be thanking Mexico for giving us this glimpse of one of our possible futures.
Texting gives written record of burglary
By David Clarkson, May 30, 2011
Text messaging records have sunk the bail chances of a pair charged with burglary.The texting included an exchange where one young burglar was inside the house, telling his mate outside what was in there.
The mate was telling him to pick up what he could.
The messages then showed them dealing in the goods.
In a Christchurch District Court session inside the Christchurch Men’s Prison, Judge Jane Farish refused bail for both of them because their risk of reoffending was too high.
She noted that one of them had only been released from a prison term on March 21 and then was charged with burglaries allegedly committed on May 2 and 3 “at a time when people were already stressed”.
She noted the other was in full time work “but also full time-active in terms of going off to commit burglaries”.
Both of them were remanded without plea in custody to June 13.
Instant jail term for hopeful shoplifter
Judge Stephen Erber sent a 30-year-old shoplifter to jail on the spot for 21 days when he admitted shoplifting a $16 packet of condoms from the Stanmore New World supermarket.
He noted that it was the man's sixth shoplifting conviction in the last year. He had got prison terms for the last three offences, and he had also failed at his community work sentence, so it was back to jail.
The man's situation - looking a bit disshevelled, unemployed, and of no fixed abode - suggests he was hoping to encounter someone who might not have insisted on dinner and a movie.
Woman gets bail in spite of her history
January 5, 2011
A woman with a record of 200 convictions for offences committed while out on bail has been released again after her arrest on burglary and drugs charges.
The unemployed 48-year-old from Spreydon has been saved from a remand in custody because her offending has tailed off in recent years.
Most of it occurred from the late 1980s to the to early 1990s but Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish noted today that there had only been two thefts in 2006 and a wilful damage in 2009, for which the woman got a suspended sentence.
She had struggled with drug addiction her whole life and had been on the methadone programme for several years but has had to come off the drug substitution treatment because of a heart condition, according to defence counsel Andrew McKenzie.
Now she is charged with burgling the home of some Russian migrants and told police she did it to get money to buy drugs.
She was found with drugs that she had bought from someone on Manchester Street for $150. She says she has a prescription for other drugs she was found with.
Her earlier history is littered with convictions for burglaries and drug offences, according to Judge Farish.
The judge decided that because of the lessening of offending in recent times, the woman could be released on bail but she has banned the woman from going to Manchester Street, or going anywhere at all between 7pm and 7am, and she is not to possess any illicit drugs.
She does not have suppression, but because of the discussion about her prior history, her name is not being reported here.
Revenge proves an expensive dish
December 14, 2010. By David Clarkson
Mark Ashton has found out that revenge and friendship can be expensive.
And sometimes for the same reason.
He is facing 250 hours of community work and a $7000 bill for the car that got torched somewhere in this process.
Ashton, 21, who has been working as a car groomer, is friends with a young woman aged 16.
His defence counsel Phillip Allan explained to Judge Erber that the young woman had some mean things said about her.
She and Ashton hatched a plan to get revenge by taking the victim’s car and hiding it.
It might not have taken much to figure out who had the car because it had a unique security system and the owner had recently told the young woman all about it.
The pair took the car and parked it in a reserve.
They are adamant that it was in good condition the last they saw of it.
Unfortunately, it was then found by someone else who removed the wheels and set it on fire, presumably to destroy any fingerprint evidence.
The $7000 car was destroyed.
At the Christchurch District Court sentencing, Judge Erber noted that Ashton did not have much of a record: wilful damage in August 2009 and two convictions for drink-driving.
He has now pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully taking the car that got torched. He was not charged with the arson, so it seems the police have accepted that someone else was responsible that that.
The judge questioned Ashton in detail about his income and expenses, and rather ruled out the weekly expense of $90 that Ashton had listed for “entertainment”.
Instead, Ashton will be paying $50 a week towards the reparations. Judge Erber made him responsible for all of it. If he wants the young woman to pay half, he will have to ask her for it.
“He can sort it out with the little girl,” said the judge. “She will probably think that’s rather mean, but there it is.”
The probation report said Ashton described himself as “a loose unit”, and that he associated with people who had drug problems.
So Judge Erber also ordered him to do a year of intensive supervision and to take part in assessment and treatment for alcohol and drug use as directed.
“The pre-sentence report refers to superficial decision-making and cognitive distortions – whatever that means,” said the judge.
Offensive weapon case lacked punch
By David Clarkson. Tuesday November 30, 2010
It must be one of the saddest offensive weapon cases the Christchurch District Court has seen.
A Bishopdale man arrived at court today, moving about and standing in the dock with the help of an oxygen bottle that he now carries with him.
He’s 46 years old, unemployed, and in ill health. He lives in a care home.
He has separated from his wife and their four children and he says he has grown increasingly frustrated lately at not seeing his children.
Last Wednesday all that boiled over and he took a softball bat and drove to the wife’s address in Redwood where he confronted her and her current partner.
He apparently had the oxygen bottle along even then, because he was incapable of actually brandishing the bat and had to rest it on a rubbish bin.
When the police were called, he told them it was “all bluff” and a stupid mistake.
He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of an offensive weapon and defence counsel Moana Cole said the man had been in no position to use the bat in any effective way.
He had no means to pay a fine and because of his poor health he could not do community work.
She urged a suspended sentence and Judge Michael Crosbie agreed, telling the man that he had to stay out of trouble for nine months or he would be re-sentenced on this weapons charge as well, and ordering him to pay court costs of $132.89.
Recent court room conversations
A man told the court that he had decided to drive, in spite of being disqualified, because he had to take his sick pet cat to the vet.
When he pleaded guilty, Judge Tony Couch inquired about the health of the cat.
The man replied: “The cat suffers many silent curses every time I see it.”
* * *
An offender was brought to court, arrested on a warrant issued when he failed to turn up for sentence for not doing his community work.
There was a discussion in court about whether he should get bail again pending a new sentencing date.
The offender turned out to be a very helpful chap, when Judge Michael Radford was grasping for the right words.
Judge Radford: "Your duty solicitor has argued that you should be granted continued bail but unfortunately your ... um ... er ..."
Defendant: "Track record?"
Judge: "Yes, your track record means that I cannot grant bail."
Very co-operative for someone who was clearly heading for the cell door.
Beachside abuse leads to court
It has taken an arrest and the intervention of a judge to put the brakes on a neighbourhood dispute at North Beach, hopefully.
An 53-year-old sickness beneficiary has a history of ill-feeling with a neighbouring resident.
That hostility boiled over into an incident on September 7.
The man was struggling to come to terms with the death of his father and turned to alcohol.
Then the hostility broke out again at 8.45am on September 24, when he was drinking and standing on his balcony yelling abusive remarks at the neighbour who could hear them 70m away.
He later walked to the beach and met the target of the abuse near the surf club.
He told his neighbour: “I’ll get you, you dirty nark.”
That remark led to the appearance in court on a charge of using threatening language.
The sickness beneficiary pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today and defence counsel Amanda Fitzgibbon said had already taken steps to stop drinking because he was aware it could not go on.
He was already paying off fines at $5 a week.
Judge Somerville asked how much the man had been spending a week on alcohol, and said he wanted to use that to pay for the penalties he was going to impose.
But the man said he wanted to use that spare $30 a week to get his chimney repaired after the earthquake.
Judge Somerville told him he would hold over the man’s sentencing to ensure the behaviour stopped, but he ordered him to pay court costs of $130 and a $500 payment to the victim for emotional harm for all the abuse he had to put up with.
He’ll have to pay it at $10 a week.
One for the master criminal file
September 20, 2010
A 20-year-old polytech student finds that his flatmate has moved out of a flat in Merivale but has left behind a $2000 acoustic guitar.
He takes it to a pawn shop, but it declines to take the guitar unless he has the case that goes with it.
In the meantime, the owner arrives back at the flat and finds his guitar is missing. He asks about it, gets no explanation from his student flatmate, and decides that it has been stolen though the case is still there.
A few days later, the student flatmate arrives at the pawn shop again, with the guitar and its case, and sells it for $300.
The sudden and suspicious disappearance of the case is a clue that is not lost on the owner, nor the police.
Student flatmate is arrested, charged with theft, pleads guilty and is sentenced to 60 hours of community work at an appearance in the Christchurch District Court.
The guitar has been returned to its owner but the thief has to pay reparations to the pawn shop, of course.
Battery theft wasn't an early warning sign
Judge David Saunders pondered whether a woman charged with shoplifting might have had some premonition of Christchurch’s earthquake.
Two days before the shake, Katrina Ann Whitelaw, 58, was arrested for stealing batteries from Fresh Choice supermarket in Barrington.
When the case later came before the Christchurch District Court Judge Saunders said: “I thought she was going to say she had some foresight into what was going to happen, and was buying batteries for a transistor radio.”
But no, defence counsel Margaret Smyth said it was simply a matter of the Northwood woman not taking enough care about her purchases and forgetting to pay.
The police pointed out she had earlier been granted the diversion scheme for first offenders for another theft charge.
Judge Saunders fined her $150 this time.
Teen taking community work rather too seriously
An unemployed 19-year-old has admitted unlawful possession of a knife in a public place – the Groynes – and has been remanded for sentencing along with other charges on October 20.
The court was told he had the knife with him while he was doing his community work.
Memo Police: Please ring the bell
A teenager has got a final warning about breaching his bail, even though he says he was at home at night when the police knocked on his door.
The youth says he cannot hear a knock on the door from his bedroom.
He says he was at home when the police knocked. His mum also says he was there. His girlfriend was with him and she also says he was there.
When he was released on bail, he told the judge he would install a bell for any nocturnal bail checks by the police.
He did that, but the police did not ring the bell.
Defence counsel Glenn Henderson said his mum took up the issue with the police after his arrest.
They said that he should also put a sign saying, “Ring the bell.”
He has been released again but if he is caught breaching his bail again, he’ll end up in custody after the warning from Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan today.
Writer’s block stops bus
A woman whose writing has won awards, orchestrated her arrest by standing in front of a bus on Oxford Terrace.
The 35-year-old unemployed Spreydon woman was recognised with writing prizes in local competitions some years ago.
She has since had a series of problems which have led to occasional appearances in the Christchurch District Court.
She was before Judge Colin Doherty again today on a charge of disorderly behaviour for the incident that stopped traffic in Oxford Terrace on Monday.
Duty solicitor Shannon-Leigh Litt said the woman had engineered her own arrest because she had already taken an overdose and was terrified of being at home by herself.
Judge Doherty fined her $200.
Chef gets to try cellblock cuisine
A Christchurch chef has had a lesson and a final warning about abiding by his bail.
He appeared before Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber a few days ago having been picked up after a non-appearance at court.
Judge Erber remanded him to today “to reflect on the wisdom of complying with bail conditions”.
Defence counsel Richard McGuire said the young man had learned that lesson when he was brought back to court before Judge Patricia Costigan today.
She told the chef he needed to “grow up” because he seemed to be playing the system.
He faces charges of burglary, two charges of failing to answer his bail, and two charges of drink-driving.
He was showing he was a continuing danger to other road users, the police complained at today’s appearance.
Judge Costigan agreed to allow his release on bail, on condition that he report twice weekly to the police, live at a specified address, and not drink alcohol.
She remanded him to August 20 with a warning that he must enter pleas at the next appearance, and any bail breaches will result in him being held in custody.
Court business lost in translation
The police swear that this story is true, and that it is about a Christchurch judge who was once in session in a court down south, when the case of a German tourist was called.
The tourist could speak no English and no interpreter was available.
Was there anyone in the court who could speak German? the judge asked.
He did a bit of pleading and cajoling in the interests of getting the case heard right then, and eventually a wee chap in the back of the public seating put his hand up.
Yes, he spoke German, he said.
The judge looked relieved and motioned him forward and told him to stand next to the dock.
He would act as the unofficial interpreter to get the case moving.
Could he start by confirming the person’s name please? the judge asked.
The wee chap turned to the dock and loudly demanded: “Vot iss your name?”
Shaking his head, the judge said, “Ah well, I suppose I asked for that,” and sent the “interpreter” back to the public seats.
Another day, another domestic
After his years on the bench, Judge Stephen Erber has certainly heard it all before.
So the domestic dispute that came before him on Friday was certainly nothing new.
A 21-year-old labourer gets into an argument with his partner outside an address in Aranui on the afternoon of April 22.
He punches her on the breast.
Then he punches her on the nose.
He walks off, but returns along St Heliers Crescent, punches her again on the side of the face and pushes her to the ground.
Asked to explain himself, the young man replies, “Nothing to say, boss.”
“Are you and she still an item?” Judge Erber asks.
“Nah, she’s gone.”
“Hardly surprising,” says the judge, imposing a $650 fine.
Pair admit DIY theft
Do it yourself went way too far for two men involved in a building project.
A neighbour noticed them helping themselves to tailings for concreting from the site of a building under construction at Rolleston.
They were filling a trailer at 1am.
When the police arrived at another building site later, they found the pair hiding beneath their vehicle.
The pair admitted theft charges in the Christchurch District Court and were each fined $400 by Judge Emma Smith.
They admitted they had been stupid and the judge seemed happy to agree.
The trailerload of tailings was worth about $100.
Fines overtake weekends
Community work has been an uphill battle for a Woolston 24-year-old.
The case, which came before Judge Brian Callaghan today, is worth a mention because it shows what can happen when those continual fines begin to mount up.
For some people, the fines can eventually lead to prison, by a way of a community work sentence that doesn’t get done either.
This young man least tried to do something about it when the fines got to several thousand dollars.
He went to court and had the fines replaced with 150 hours of community work, which he was due to start in October.
He made a very bad job of that, and didn’t turn up much at all to get the work done.
Probation got sick of that performance and charged him with a breach of community work which came before the court today, and the offender pleaded guilty.
He explained to Judge Callaghan that he had run into problems because he had got a job working night shift, which he is still doing.
Probation explained that since the charge was laid, the man had got on with the sentence and had now done 90.5 hours, with 59.5 hours still to do.
Judge Callaghan noted that and didn’t impose any more community work, but fined him $400.
The man remains in a situation where he works from 11pm until 8am and after his all-night shift heads straight to the work centre for a Saturday on a community work gang.
That sounds like quite an ask, but he seems to be handling it.
He may even be regretting the behaviour that clocked up those thousands of dollars of fines in the first place.
High hopes for April
It was a prosecutorial slip of the tongue that sent a chuckle throughout the Court House.
Up in Court 10, the prosecutor asked permission to leave his cellphone on during the hearing because his wife was “two weeks away from pregnancy”.
The presiding Justice of the Peace asked if he might like to rephrase that, and suggested that the man’s wife was actually “soon to give birth”.
Ah yes, the prosecutor could see the point.
He added as an aside that it sounded as though he had some sex "booked in for April".
A guarantee of attention
There is a 25-year-old man around town with a name that is certain to catch police attention.
Unless it is a police typo — of the word Hamish perhaps — this man's first name is Hashish.
That is how the name appeared at court in two places on his charge sheet today when he appeared on a breath-alcohol charge.
Wednesday Lucudity Antonievic’s name attracted judicial attention, and her behaviour brought her a term of community work.
The 18-year-old bartender had shoplifted items from four shops at Westfield Mall on Thursday.
Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders didn’t call it shoplifting, preferring the term “bare-faced theft”.
He asked her if it was her original name, or if she had come up with it in recent times.
She assured him it was her life-long name.
The middle name’s spelling is as it appears on the police paperwork.
“Lucid on Wednesday; dishonest on Thursday,” said Judge Saunders.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Tu Maaka said she had gone to four Westfield shops and stole cosmetics, socks, underwear, a handbag, and a t-shirt.
She was caught by mall security staff.
She told the police the money she had with her was savings to buy a house.
Defence counsel Gilbert Hay said Antonievic, whose address is given as “no fixed abode”, already had unpaid fines but she would do a sentence of community work.
Judge Saunders noted that she had previous theft convictions and had been fined or given home detention.
A fine was not appropriate for a repeat offender, he said, imposing 90 hours of community work.
A woman may get the diversion scheme for first offenders for acting in what sounds like a very reasonable fashion when she encountered a stolen car.
She ended up in court because she should have realised right at the start that the deal seemed too good to be true.
She has been charged with receiving stolen property and if she is willing to admit that, police may let her go through diversion and end up without a conviction.
But the case — dealt with in a status hearing court this week — shows how tight the law is and how careful you have to be.
The woman’s daughter brought home a car which was rather scruffy looking because it was covered in mud and dirt.
The mother agreed to buy it for the daughter for $600.
In the day or so after the deal was done, the woman came to realise that underneath the grime it wasn’t a $600 car, but could be worth a whole lot more.
She contacted the appropriate car sales firm to ask about any recent thefts from their yard and they contacted the police.
It turned out it was in fact a $45,000 car, near new, and stolen.
Police accepted that the woman had acted reasonably in the later inquiries she made, but she was still charged with receiving for the initial deal she had done.
The case was heading for a defended hearing.
Defence counsel David Ruth told the status hearing: “I don’t know whether there is going to be expert evidence that she would know the difference between a $600 car and a $45,000 car. Some people don’t.”
“She’s a grown-up,” Judge Emma Smith replied.
At the end of the Christchurch District Court status hearing, the police agreed to consider the case for diversion.
A North Islander gave Christchurch a vote of confidence by moving here “to get away from bad influences”.
But the execution of the plan went awry on the way south.
He got as far as Wellington before temptation got in the way and he apparently swiped a laptop computer at a backpackers’ hostel.
He finally appeared in the Christchurch District Court today on charges of stealing the computer, breach of community work, and breach of supervision.
He explained to Judge Michael Crosbie that he had come down from Hastings to get away from the bad influences.
“That presupposes there are no bad influences in Christchurch,” commented the judge. “I may be able to retire very shortly.”
He described the man’s past conduct as “inglorious” and remanded the unemployed 21-year-old in custody to March 1.
The young man seemed surprised to find that he will be in jail for his birthday.
A teenager who had broken into five cars and stolen items from them in Kaiapoi, supplied his mother’s address as a suitable bail address — but there was a problem.
He had also pleaded guilty to taking a bicycle and breaches of prison release conditions, and breach of bail.
All of that looks a bit awkward when you are wanting released on bail again.
The problem was that his mum turned up at court this morning and police said she was drunk.
When the youth appeared in the court in the afternoon, the judge had been made aware of the woman’s state and denied bail for her son until the address could be checked as appropriate.
The mother, who was at the back of the court, yelled “Bugger you!” to the judge as she stormed out the door followed by police officers.
Her son was taken away in custody.
A Court House staffer has become a victim of crime as he tried to stop someone getting away in his treasured sports car.
The man is a forensic psychiatric nurse who regularly attends the courts and checks the health of the clientelle who may need assistance.
The nurses are sometimes called on to provide information or opinions about remands in court.
He left the Court House one day this week in time to spot his beautifully restored Toyota MR2 sports car being driven off along Durham Street from where he had parked it outside the building.
He bravely put himself in the way by standing in front of the car at the Armagh Street lights.
It took off anyway, pitching him over the bonnet and onto the road where he bruised an elbow.
The incident was apparently captured on the traffic cam that covers the intersection.
It started out well. An understanding judge, a fresh start and no jail time.
It ended soon after in more usual fashion: shouting and swearing in the Court House corridors and ordered out of the building by security staff.
Chelsea Fairless was the young “frequent flyer” referred to in a Court News report a week ago, where the judge noted she had 12 pages of criminal history at the age of 22.
She had more than 100 convictions for disorder or minor violence including resisting the police over the last three years.
She could not be named at that stage because of the discussion of her criminal history, but she pleaded guilty yesterday.
The charges were more of the same: two of being found unlawfully in a building, one of obstructing the police, possession of cannabis, and possession of drug utensils.
Defence counsel Craig Fletcher said Fairless had had a lot of time and effort put into her and was complying with probation’s directions as much as possible.
Unfortunately, she tended to mix illicit drugs with her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication, and that led to episodes.
She was coming into the city for counselling for depression, arranged through probation.
It was not possible to get her into a residential rehabilitation programme because she was taking the prescription medication, Ritalin.
Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish noted that Fairless did seem to do well when subject to supervision. “For someone who keeps coming back before the court so often, that surprises me.”
She imposed 40 hours of community work on top of the 75-hour sentence that Fairless got last year.
She ordered six months of supervision, with a direction to undertake treatment or counselling as recommended.
And she suggested that probation arrange for her counselling out in the suburbs instead of bringing her into the city centre where she seems to be getting in trouble.
A Spreydon man’s long history of offending while on bail is bad news for his continued tenancy at a Christchurch City Council flat, and for his cat.
He’s been refused bail and he says he has no-one to call about his unattended moggy.
Hopefully some helpful agency will step in while he waits almost a month for another bail application that may let him out with electronic monitoring.
His list of previous convictions is enormous, and even the police’s list of offences committed while on bail runs to 10 pages of computer print-out.
Police prosecutor Anselm Williams said the bail offending list stretched back as far as 1987.
The name of the 42-year-old unemployed man is not suppressed but it cannot be published here because of the reporting of his criminal record before trial or conviction.
The discussion took place during a Christchurch District Court session before Judge Raoul Neave today.
On December 7, the man appeared on six charges of shoplifting and one theft of a bicycle and was remanded on bail for sentencing in February.
Eight days later, he has been charged with the theft of computer equipment worth $134 from a games shop.
He was then charged with possession of instruments for burglary December 18. He told police he always carried bolt cutters and he had the pair of pliers to fix the gears on his bicycle.
“Someone with a lengthy history of burglary wandering round with bolt cutters doesn’t inspire me with confidence,” said Judge Neave.
Then, on January 9, he is accused of the theft of more than $1000 worth of medical supplies from the Christchurch Hospital and being found in an enclosed yard.
The burglary happened when he had been at the hospital as a result of a bereavement. “It shows that when he is under stress he’s likely to resort to crime,” said Judge Neave. He was concerned that the stress of facing sentencing could trigger further offending.
Defence counsel Trudi Aickin said the man did not want to lose his council flat in Spreydon, if he was remanded in custody. The loss meant he would not have an address where a community-based sentence could be considered.
He had been living there for three months. He was also worried about his cat — there was no-one he could call to take care of it.
She wanted him bailed to his home address, but subject to a 23-hour-a-day curfew which would allow him out for just enough time to get his daily methadone dose at a pharmacy in Sydenham and buy the food he needed.
“Unfortunately he has an enormous criminal history. I stopped counting the burglary convictions at the start of this century and I had got to 13 or 14,” said the judge.
The man was remanded in custody but Judge Neave did not rule out an application for electronically monitored bail, which will be heard on February 10.
A Prebbleton man facing sentence in two weeks for a breach of a protection order has just done the same thing — five more times.
Sol Wade, 24, today pleaded guilty to breaches of the same protection order by repeatedly telephoning the woman who has taken out the order against him, and by going to her address.
Defence counsel Craig Fletcher said Wade had been on bail, but given the new charges he was not asking for it again.
Christchurch District Court Judge Raoul Neave remanded Wade in custody for his previously arranged sentencing before Judge Jane Farish on December 17 and asked Community Probation to build all the extra charges into the presentence report they are already working on.
Jason Peter Rochford is facing jail time, and some of it may be in lieu of the jaw-dropping amount of fines he has stacked up.
When he pleaded guilty to charges of theft, and eight of dishonestly using documents at the Christchurch District Court today, Judge Stephen Coyle noted that he owed the fines system $39,958.
The judge said $17,248 of that was unpaid reparations — the amount he owes to his victims for damage and loss.
He has already attended part of a drug rehabilitation course at Odyssey House, and is now in custody for sentencing on January 19.
The judge has called for a pre-sentence report, but no report aimed at home or community detention.
Defence counsel Serina Bailey acknowledged that with a jail term seemingly inevitable, it would be quite a while before Rochford would be making any fines payments.
The sentencing judge will consider that in January.
A 19-year-old was marched off to the cells swearing loudly and protesting his innocence about repeated bail breaches.
There have been three breaches in the last month and the police and the Christchurch District Court judges have finally run out of patience.
Today the remand was in custody in spite of his protests. He is next due to appear at trial on December 17 for an assault on a woman.
Judge Colin Doherty was told that the youth had been found not living at the address required on his bail bond on November 5, and then drinking alcohol in breach of his bail conditions on November 13.
His latest breach was receiving a visit from the woman complainant in the assault case — something else that’s listed as forbidden on his bail bond.
“She keeps showing up at my house,” the youth protested from the dock as Judge Doherty decided that he was not confident that the teenager should be released on bail yet again.
The custody remand and the swearing from the dock followed.
A man who said he had an accident when he was driving along and reacted badly when he found a spider crawling on his leg, has been discharged without conviction in the Christchurch District Court. He had faced a charge of careless driving causing injury.
Three weeks after his release from jail, Alan James Malloch is struggling with life on the outside.
He has been finding it hard to get a social welfare benefit arranged, and accommodation has so far proved impossible for the unemployed 45-year-old.
He was arrested on the day of his release and charged with stealing a bicycle from a woman who left it in Woodham Park while she visited the public toilets there.
He was apparently going to sell it to get money for alcohol.
He got 90 hours of community work for that.
Then he came back to court today, charged with breaching the inner city liquor ban on November 20 when he was caught in Manchester Street with a bottle of gin.
And he was again arrested last night, when he went into an unoccupied block of Housing New Zealand flats which had been left open, in Riccarton Road.
Security staff found him asleep in the lounge.
He hadn’t taken anything, hadn’t done any damage. He just wanted a place to sleep.
That led to a night in the cells and an appearance today before Judge Tony Couch.
But the incident has led to the help that’s needed for a man whose criminal record now runs to 13 pages.
His probation officer has been arranging a sickness benefit, and has made an approach to Housing New Zealand for him to get accommodation as soon as possible.
Judge Couch noted that Malloch’s life was already being overseen by probation because of his prison release conditions. He left it at that.
He gave him a suspended sentence for being in the flat, and a conviction and discharge for breaching the liquor ban.
And Malloch headed out of the Court House to continue his daily struggle.
After 20 years experience at the Christchurch courts, a court crier and jury attendant working on the trial of a policeman charged with bribery and sex offences has encountered his first smoke-free jury.
Juries often take breaks during deliberations so that the smokers can get outside to have a puff.
In this trial, when the jury knocks on the door and says it feels like some fresh air, it will mean just that.
A 17-year-old faces a $1000 bill for a bit of idle tagging at the Bus Exchange.
Cody Daymond was waiting for a bus at the Exchange when he took out a cigarette lighter and burned the word “taxi” onto a window.
He admitted the damage at an appearance in the Christchurch District Court, when defence counsel Paul Johnson acknowledged Daymond’s offence had been a serious error of judgment.
Daymond is applying to go on the independent youth benefit and already has $200 in unpaid fines.
He is also doing a community work sentence, having completed 15.5 hours of a 100-hour term.
Judge Brian Callaghan gave him an additional 100 hours to do, and ordered him to pay the $1000 bill for the damage.
According to Community Probation, Alan James Malloch didn’t even last the day when he was released from prison on Monday November 2.
Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan noted that the 45-year-old’s print-out of convictions has now reached 13 pages.
Malloch, an unemployed resident of an inner city address, was in Woodham Park about midday on Monday where he stole a woman’s bicycle while she was making a stop at the public toilets.
He told police he took the bicycle because he was thirsty and looking for an opportunity.
He pleaded guilty to the theft charge, and probation pointed out that he had only been released from prison on Monday.
Defence counsel said Malloch was rather keen to do community work — considering the likely alternative — and Judge Callaghan gave him a term of 90 hours.
Letterboxes target of drunken pair
Two teens who got drunk and victimised the letterboxes of Glenrowan Avenue, Avondale, have been dealt with at court.
One got diversion — the scheme that allows first offenders to go through the system without a conviction — as long as he paid $100 for the damage he did.
But the other, 18-year-old Roger Matafeo, could not get diversion because he could not come up with the required $125.
Defence counsel Gilly ferguson said Matafeo had been unable to get the money because of the large amount of his earnings he was sending to extended family in Samoa.
So instead of diversion, he pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly behaviour and intentional damage, and accepted that he would get convictions.
The police said he and his friend walked down the road yelling and shouting at 2.25am on June 7, kicking cars and letterboxes. They damaged five letterboxes before they were stopped.
Matafeo was unco-operative and drunk and denied damaging anything.
Christchurch District Court Judge John Bisphan fined him $150 and $130 court costs on each charge and ordered him to pay $125 for the damage he did.
He is already paying off fines of $400 at $30 a week and that arrangement will continue.
Woman facing deportation rethinks assault complaint
An emigrant couple’s domestic troubles nearly got them sent back to Pakistan.
The man had admitted a charge of assaulting his wife.
But when it came time to sentence him, the woman stood in the Christchurch District Court to say that the police account of the incident had been exaggerated.
The exaggeration, it seems, had come from her.
The husband was worried that a conviction could delay the granting of a liquor manager’s licence, and could result in the loss of his graduate job search visa.
If that happened, the couple would deported to Pakistan, Judge John Bisphan was told.
The husband wanted a discharge without conviction and the wife had handed in a sworn statement supporting his request.
But police Sergeant Paul Brocas told the court the woman had originally said the assault in January was not the first time there had been family violence and it was not the worst beating she had received.
It was just the first time she had called the police.
Judge Bisphan said the woman was very concerned that if her husband was convicted she would find herself being deported to Pakistan along with him.
She also went further in the statement and said that what she told police at the time was not necessarily true.
He said if it only involved the man he would not allow the discharge without conviction, but he would grant it because of the difficulties the woman would face.
He ordered the man to pay $500 towards the cost of the prosecution.
Police have taken a new line with a tagger and slapped an extra charge on him.
They are alleging that the Linwood 22-year-old defaced a building with spray paint on August 13 and they have charged him with that.
But they have also charged him with having possession of the can of spray paint without reasonable excuse and in circumstances where they could infer he intended to commit an offence.
The unemployed man was given a registrar’s remand on August 18 and is due back in court on September 8.
Two Christchurch lawyers — men of rather different appearance — were muddled by those typing up the record of a Christchurch trial while listening in to the sound feed from some other part of the building, or the country.
Defence counsel Colin Eason lists his corrections to the typed record of the trial: “There is a regrettable correction on page 24 where I am being referred to as Mr Eaton.”
Judge Raoul Neave: “Unless you have gained four or five inches and wider stripes on your suit.”
Mr Eason: “And a younger outlook.”
Slow learner caught again
Judge John Bisphan sees Rodger William Hollidge as a slow learner.
The Linwood 18-year-old has already been to prison this year for interfering or stealing from cars.
On June 25, he and another youth used a screwdriver to break into a Honda Civic parked in Cuffs Road, and rummaged through it looking for stuff to steal.
They didn’t find anything, but were found by the police nearby, still with the screwdriver.
Instead of sending him straight back to jail, Judge Bisphan told him he was a slow learner and ordered him to do 100 hours of community work.
An Akaroa man may end up serving home detention instead of paying his massive fines total.
He clocked up fines totalling $21,208.
Finding he could not pay them, he came to court in March and did a deal to transfer them into community work.
He was going to do 325 hours instead of the fines. That’s a pay-rate of $62.50 an hour.
To his credit, he did 169 hours, travelling weekly from Akaroa to the work centre in Sydenham.
But Community Probation says he stopped reporting on May 23.
They charged him with failing to do the hours and he was in court today, explaining that since June he had not been able to afford to travel from Akaroa.
Now the deal normally is that you do all the required hours, or you get none of the discount.
How this case will be handled is not certain with 156 hours outstanding.
Judge John Bisphan remanded the man on bail for a pre-sentence report and sentencing on September 14.
He asked for the extra report that will allow the judge to consider home detention and community detention.
Echoes of Bain
The pre-trial call-over session proves too big for the court room.
When one of the big jury courts comes free for the afternoon, the pre-trial session is quickly switched into there.
Even so, the court is packed and some of the most experienced trial lawyers end up sitting in the jury seats.
When one of them gets to his feet, the judge expresses his discomfort at seeing him in the jury box.
“I can just imagine the type of questions that would be coming from the jury room,” he says.
Hours later, after 5pm with the session still running, the same lawyer stands for another of his cases.
The judge comments: “Aah, juror number 8.”
Defence counsel: “At this time of the day, I probably feel a bit like those Bain jurors.”
Judge: “There will be no hugging.”
A young offender pleads guilty to cannabis charges.
The judge takes a look at the police’s written summary of the case.
He tells the court: “There is nothing remarkable except that when the police were at the house, he threw plastic bags out of the bedroom window, into the arms of the detective standing outside.”
Perhaps the detective’s plain clothes outfit was particularly convincing.
It goes without saying that the whole system of fines only works if people pay them.
Lance Puwaero Barton, a 40-year-old unemployed man from Woolston, is paying his fines.
He pays them at $15 a week.
It’s evidently not possible for him to pay more.
But it may be that he had enough spare cash to get very drunk one night last night and get aggressive towards people in his neighbourhood.
He kicked fences and wandered about in the traffic.
He brought his guitar along to the Christchurch District Court today to plead guilty to a charge of disorderly behaviour.
The only penalty that can be imposed for disorderly behaviour is a fine, so Judge Stephen Erber added just $100 to the total of unpaid fines.
He confirmed that Barton was paying his fines at $15 a week.
He’s got a little way to go to get on top of his unpaid fines.
The total is $29,000 and he will be aged 77 in 37 years’ time when he’s fine-free.
In another case, Judge Michael Crosbie took a realistic and compassionate approach with a Wainoni man who was being resentenced because he was too ill to finish his sentence of community work.
He got 180 hours a year ago for breaches of home detention, community work, and conspiring to deal in drugs.
The man had done 78hrs 30min of the sentence, but he had what probation termed a life-threatening illness and they wanted the sentence cancelled.
Judge Crosbie decided on community detention instead, and noted that the man was paying $80 a week off his unpaid fines totalling $27,600
Judge Crosbie cut $17,600 from the total of fines and enforcement fees in return for an extra month of community detention.
That made three months when the man will be confined at home from 7pm to 7am each night.
But he seemed to appreciate the break.
When the judge warned him that the court was running out of options if he breached his sentence, he replied: “You won’t see me here again, Your Honour.”