Cleaner stole forfeited cigarettes
A French citizen employed as a cleaner at Queenstown Airport repeatedly raided an amnesty bin where people left excess cigarettes they could not bring into New Zealand.
Costa Le Coubet, 32, told police he thought the cigarettes ‘‘were going to be thrown out so it wasn’t such a big issue’’. He pleaded guilty to four theft charges at an appearance in the Christchurch District Court. He was stopped by Customs at Christchurch Airport as he was about to fly home to France and had forfeited his $1000 air ticket.
Judge Tony Couch did not record convictions because Le Coubet will argue at his sentencing on October 10 that he should be discharged without conviction.
Defence counsel Claire Hislop said Le Coubet had a tourism degree and having convictions on his record would seriously affect his ability to travel.
Judge Couch refused name suppression.
Hislop said Le Coubet would try to obtain work in Christchurch during his remand on bail. He was in New Zealand on a working holiday visa, which would expire in November.
Police said Le Coubet was employed as a cleaner at Queenstown Airport, responsible for cleaning the Customscontrolled area.
On June 3, Le Coubet and an associate entered the secure area where the cigarette amnesty bin was located. It contains cigarettes that have been forfeited to the Crown by passengers who have exceeded New Zealand’s 50 cigarette limit and do not want to pay tax on the excess.