Beer spill ‘crime of passion’


Spilling more than 12,000 litres of beer at a Wanaka brewery was a craft brewer’s “crime of passion”, a judge was told yesterday.

Kenneth William Super, 53, took issue with how Wanaka Beerworks was being operated by new management after the sale of the company three months earlier.

On November 4 last year, he entered the building and opened valves on tanks holding a total of more than 12,000 litres of beer in various states of fermentation. 

Super appeared in the Queenstown District Court yesterday to be sentenced on three charges: burglary of Wanaka Beerworks on November 4 last year, possession of the class C-controlled drug cannabis and cultivation of cannabis the following day.

Lawyer Liam Collins says Super suffered a breakdown and did not set out, “as in the case of arson, to cause wanton or reckless damage”.

“This was a crime of passion – a passion for the business.

“These craft brewers take particular care and sensitivity about their art.”

However, Judge Mark Callaghan described Super’s actions as a “nasty, vengeful assault” on the business owners. 

The spilled beer spewed on to the footpath outside the brewery and seeped through the building’s walls, causing damage to an adjoining toy museum.

Total damage was estimated at nearly $80,000.

Police found 170g of cannabis plant material, 65 cannabis seeds and four cannabis plants at Super’s home when he was arrested the next day.

Callaghan says: “While change can be hard for all to accept, to take the actions you did was inexplicable.”

A pre-sentence report indicated the defendant had drug and alcohol issues, and “snapped” when his new employers said his job performance was below par.

Aggravating factors were the substantial losses caused and the premeditation and Super’s abuse of trust.

Mitigating factors included the defendant’s remorse and immediate guilty plea, and his offer to make amends.

On the burglary charge, Super was convicted and sentenced to 400 hours’ community work and 12 months’ supervision.

Special conditions include undertaking a drug and alcohol assessment and any treatment or counselling as directed.

He must also pay $26,000 reparation at $100 a week – that’s five years of payments.

On the charge of cannabis cultivation, Super was convicted and sentenced to 100 hours’ community work, to be served concurrently.

He was convicted and discharged on the charge of cannabis possession.