Cleaner stole for­feited cig­a­rettes

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID CLARK­SON

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.


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