Me­chanic on trial over work on ve­hi­cles

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Me­chanic ac­cused of en­dan­ger­ing pub­lic

A Queen­stown me­chanic smashed a faulty ball-joint in a van then spray-painted it to make it look like it had been re­placed, a jury in the In­ver­cargill Dis­trict Court was told.

Karl John Ab­bott, 54, has de­nied five charges re­lat­ing to two dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles he did work on in 2012 and 2013. The trial is be­fore Judge Michael Turner.

Three of the charges are in relation to work on a Honda CRV in mid 2012, and in­clude two of re­ceiv­ing a pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage through dis­hon­est use of doc­u­ments to­talling $966 and one of at­tempt­ing to per­vert the course of jus­tice. The other two re­late to work on a Toy­ota van in Jan­uary 2013 – one of dis­hon­est use of a doc­u­ment to re­ceive a pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage of $250 and one of wil­fully en­dan­ger­ing the pub­lic.

In her open­ing ad­dress, Crown solic­i­tor Mary-Jane Thomas said Ab­bott was asked to fix the trans­mis­sion in the Honda car by its owner. The Crown al­leges Ab­bott said he re­placed the trans­mis­sion, but that this did not hap­pen, as a later ex­am­i­na­tion showed the same se­rial num­ber on the trans­mis­sion. It claims he re­ceived $766 for the re­pair plus $200 in cash to cover an in­surance ex­cess.

Ab­bott had ad­mit­ted to po­lice he did not re­place the trans­mis­sion and had com­pleted the in­voice to do the owner a favour as he did not have the money to fix the car, Thomas said. This seemed an ex­tra­or­di­nary claim as the car owner then pur­sued the mat­ter through a Dis­putes Tri­bunal hear­ing, with­out a favourable out­come, and then took the mat­ter to the po­lice.

The owner of the Toy­ota van took it in for a war­rant of fit­ness check in Jan­uary 2012, which it failed. She took it to Ab­bott, who said he could fix it for $250. After the work was done, it failed again, with a Ve­hi­cle Test­ing agent stat­ing the ball-joint ap­peared to have been smashed with a ham­mer, then spray­painted to look new, Thomas said.

The owner took it back to Ab­bott, who sub­se­quently fixed it prop­erly. The en­dan­ger­ing the pub­lic charge re­lated to the ball- joint work not be­ing ini­tially com­pleted, she said.

De­fence coun­sel John West­gate said Ab­bott de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion about the ball-joint work. The Ve­hi­cle Test­ing agent who made the claim had no ev­i­dence to back it up.

The trial con­tin­ues. Full cov­er­age in The South­land Times.

Church man’s in­de­cent as­sault

AWanaka man with strong ties to the Catholic Church in­de­cently as­saulted a 12-year-old girl, Queen­stown Dis­trict Court was told.

Gre­gory Ger­ard Basil Clarke, 55, ap­peared be­fore Judge Christina Cook for sen­tence for in­de­cently as­sault­ing a fe­male un­der 12, on May 25 last year.

The court was told Clarke was su­per­vis­ing chil­dren when he briefly touched a girl through her cloth­ing.

Lawyer Rus­sell Check­etts said the as­sault was un­for­giv­able but it was mo­men­tary. His client was deeply in­volved in the Catholic Church.

’’He is still ac­cepted in the church. He ac­cepts that what he did was wrong. He is full of re­morse. The fam­ily are very up­set.’’

Judge Cook is­sued a warn­ing un­der three strikes leg­is­la­tion and said the facts of the of­fend­ing were clear. She re­ferred to a let­ter of support from Clarke’s sis­ter and a let­ter of apol­ogy from the de­fen­dant.

’’It’s of con­cern that there was some sug­ges­tion within the [pre-sen­tence] re­port that you at­trib­uted a por­tion of the blame to the chil­dren’s be­hav­iour. That can never be ac­cepted and I do not ac­cept that.’’

The court was pre­vi­ously told that Clarke was en­gaged in ’’horse­play’’ with chil­dren when the as­sault on the girl oc­curred.

He was sentenced to five months’ com­mu­nity de­ten­tion, with a daily cur­few from 8pm to 8am, 120 hours’ com­mu­nity work, six months’ su­per­vi­sion and or­dered to pay $1500 repa­ra­tion for emo­tional harm.

Light-fin­gered French­man fined

A French back­packer who em­barked on a shoplift­ing spree in Wanaka told po­lice it was easy to steal from shops there.

Ben­jamin Pierre Stephan Turc, 27, ap­peared be­fore Judge Christina Cook in the Queen­stown Dis­trict Court on Mon­day. He ad­mit­ted steal­ing more than $1600 of items from stores in the town in a three- hour spree on Jan­uary 19. He was fined a to­tal of $1950 on eight shoplift­ing charges. All the stolen prop­erty was re­cov­ered.

His lawyer, Liam Collins, said Turc was un­able to ex­plain his ac­tions dur­ing ‘‘a day of mad­ness’’ and his on­ward travel to Aus­tralia was at risk be­cause of his of­fend­ing.

The judge said she had con­sid­ered a cus­to­dial sen­tence but Turc planned to leave New Zealand this week.

It was more ben­e­fi­cial to im­pose a fine rather than bur­den the tax­payer, she said.


Christo­pher John An­der­son, 31, was re­manded on bail for a dis­charge with­out con­vic­tion ap­pli­ca­tion on April 13 for deal­ing cannabis be­tween June 30 and July 19, and pos­sess­ing drug uten­sils on Au­gust 18.

Har­ri­son Kevin Robert New­man, 17, of Frank­ton, was re­manded on bail to the Christchurch Dis­trict Court on Fe­bru­ary 27 for a dis­charge with­out con­vic­tion ap­pli­ca­tion for pos­sess­ing cannabis for sup­ply be­tween Septem­ber 16 and Novem­ber 7, and sup­ply­ing cannabis be­tween Jan­uary 1 and Septem­ber 16.

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