Brothers feel sting of court’s tail
Two Arrowtown brothers were sentenced to community detention for serious biosecurity breaches after scorpions were smuggled into Queenstown from Australia. James Alexander Grant, 24, electrician, and his brother Matthew Stuart Grant, 23, builder, appeared for sentence before Judge Kevin Phillips in Queenstown District Court for, respectively, possession and disposal of scorpions and possession and sale of scorpions between February and April. They were each sentenced to two months’ community detention, with a daily 7pm to 7am curfew, 150 hours community work and ordered to pay $1000 towards the costs of the prosecution to the Ministry for Primary Industries. Judge Phillips said the potential for harm was high but noted the brothers were diligent, industrious men. ‘‘I have to bring it home to you, the community and any other persons approached by importers . . . that the courts will take a strong handle upon it. ‘‘It’s impossible here to foresee what harm a colony of them could do. Your actions made that risk high and your sentence will show that people will respect our borders.’’ Ministry for Primary Industries lawyer Grant Fletcher told the court there was no difference in terms of sentencing options between the charges but noted importing, a charge the brothers did not face, was the more culpable. Lawyer Sonia Vidal said the men were not directly involved in importing the scorpions and did not seek their importation. Two others, Iszac William Walters, 23, and a fourth man faced charges of breaching the Biosecurity Act after six black rock scorpions were smuggled from Australia. Scorpions were smuggled into New Zealand in film canisters and given to James Grant. In turn, he gave four scorpions to his brother who sold two. In April, the MPI was told a live scorpion was being kept in a Queenstown bedroom. Investigators recovered a scorpion from a wardrobe and were told it was found in a takeaway box at Queenstown Primary School. The ministry searched the grounds using ultraviolet detectors, but nothing was found. A production order was granted for cellphone texts, some of which discussed scorpions and suggested more people were aware the creatures were in Queenstown. Walters is expected to be sentenced in the Christchurch District Court on December 11.
Chopper pilot pinged
The actions of a Ranfurly helicopter pilot who lied to investigators after crashing while carrying out unlicensed commercial work could not get much worse, the Alexandra District Court heard. Daniel James Parker, 22, appeared before Judge Michael Crosbie as Civil Aviation Authority prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch outlined a raft of breaches to CAA rules. Parker was carrying out agricultural work in his Robinson R22 on Lochar Downs Farm in Cromwell on March 16 last year when he collided with an irrigation system. Mr Pilditch said Parker did not have the necessary licence to undertake commercial work – a licence that was not simply a ‘‘bureaucratic exercise’’ to obtain but one which covered training protocols and safety systems. After the crash, Parker then ‘‘carelessly’’ flew the damaged aircraft to a truck which transported the aircraft to a hangar where he again flew the aircraft off the truck. ‘‘It was only in the air for a short period of time but it simply should never have been flown in that condition at all,’’ Mr Pilditch said. Parker, without being trained or certified, carried out repairs to the helicopter rather than getting a licensed aviation mechanic to carry out the work. Furthermore, during the CAA investigation, Parker ‘‘misrepresented the truth’’, telling safety investigators repeatedly he had ‘‘landed hard’’ rather than collided with an irrigator. ‘‘It cannot get much worse than this. He tried to fix the aircraft, then went on to hide the events. "The combination of offences must fall within the most aggravating and serious range of the spectrum under the CAA act.’’ Defence lawyer Brett Cooper said the offending was ‘‘an illustration of youth and inexperience’’. Judge Crosbie remanded Parker to reappear on December 12 in Dunedin for sentencing on charges of operating an aircraft on a commercial agricultural aircraft operation without holding a commercial pilot’s licence; operating an aircraft in amanner that caused unnecessary danger to property – colliding with an irrigation system; on or about March 17 operating an aircraft in a careless manner by flying the aircraft on to and off a truck when it was not in an airworthy condition; carrying out maintenance and repairs to the helicopter without a licence; and providing false information to the CAA about the incident.
Alexandra Youth Court
Two teenagers accused of a raft of burglaries and thefts would probably have been remanded in custody had they been adults, such was the seriousness of the charges, a judge told the pair in the Alexandra Youth Court. The boys, both 15 at the time of alleged offending, appeared before Judge Michael Crosbie yesterday. ‘‘This is as serious as it gets. There is a substantial amount of offending in relation to you. What that means to you through this process – everyone is going to be watching you very closely.’’ He told the boys to expect to do some ‘‘hard yards’’ in the form of community service. ‘‘There is going to be some hard yards for you - the equivalent to what we would expect an adult to do. ‘‘Expect to be tied up for quite a while – that is how bad the offending is. If you were an adult facing these charges, you would not be on bail. That is how serious it is. You would likely have been remanded in custody till the trial date or the matter was disposed of.’’ The judge noted that the boys had already been granted bail by a justice of the peace. After the boys’ arrest, police said they had created ‘‘mayhem’’ around Alexandra and Clyde in an alleged three-month crime spree. Police recovered about 100 items they believed had been stolen from insecure vehicles and garages since early August and as recently as October 20. One alleged offender racked up $3000 between two credit cards over a weekend of internet gaming. It was through the online activity that internet-savvy Constable Rowan Williams was able to trace the boys. The judge directed that a family group conference be held. Both boys were remanded to reappear on December 12.
A Fernhill labourer who seriously injured a patron in an unprovoked assault in a Queenstown club was sentenced to six months’ home detention. Samuel James Corson, 21, appeared for sentence before Judge Kevin Phillips in Queenstown District Court for injuring with reckless disregard for the safety of others on July 14. He was ordered to pay $7850, sentenced to 200 hours community work and given a warning of the consequences if another offence involving violence was committed. The court was told Corson twice punched the victim, who did not know his attacker, on the dance floor of SkyBar, possibly after mistaking him for someone involved in a fight earlier that night. The victim, 37-year-old Auckland visitor Mike Knight, suffered multiple fractures including a broken eye socket, a broken nose and collapsed sinus and needed surgery to insert three metal plates in his face. Judge Phillips said it was an unprovoked attack on a vulnerable victim standing in a bar doing no wrong, he said. ‘‘Violence at this level is always serious. The court has said before, there’s fast becoming a time when offenders like you will face the consequences and go through that door to prison and destroy their lives accordingly, destroy their families. ‘‘This type of behaviour will not be tolerated in any reasonable society.’’ The judge said Corson needed to be held to account for his actions and violence on licensed premises had to be denounced and deterred. Lawyer Mike Newell said his client was remorseful and of previous good character.
Using a weapon
Clinton James Hepi, 41, of Fernhill, was sentenced to 18 months’ jail for assault with a weapon on May 5 and assault and disorderly behaviour that was likely in the circumstances to cause violence against persons to start on September 21. The court was told he was drinking in Debajo when he got into an argument. When the victim left the bar into Cow Ln, Hepi was there holding a metal railing pole, which he swung and struck the victim in the forehead. In the September incident he punched a victim in the head.
Rawiri Wiremu James Dais, 20, apprentice, of Wanaka, was convicted and remanded in custody for sentence on December 16 for wounding with reckless disregard on August 24. A victim was punched unconscious with an uppercut and needed surgery to reconstruct a broken nose and a metal plate inserted below his left eye. The judge said he considered a jail sentence inevitable.
Biohazard: Brothers James Grant, left, and Matthew Grant at sentencing in Queenstown District Court.