Mechanic on trial over work on vehicles
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.