Boss’ ‘moment of madness’


When a company boss thought a teenager had skived off with his wife’s purse on a night out in Queenstown last year, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Encountering the alleged thief on the dark streets of the resort’s CBD about 3am, Jeremy David Smith, 46, smacked the 19-year-old to the head, three to five times.

But the teen — who Smith chased when he ran away — decided to exact his own revenge.

He rallied four of his mates and when they found Smith, who’s from Lower Hutt, they turned the tables, punching and kicking him, resulting in a trip to Lakes District Hospital.

In Queenstown’s court last week, Judge Russell Walker said Smith — who admitted a charge of assault with intent to injure, dated August 8 — had been in a resort bar with his
wife about 1.30am and had an ‘‘amicable discussion’’ with his eventual victim and a couple of his mates.

They left, separately, but soon after Smith’s wife noticed her purse was missing.

The first assault happened when they were on their way back to their accommodation and Smith spotted the teen on Beach Street, confronted him about the purse and then let his fists fly — his victim sustained ‘‘extensive’’ swelling and bruising to his nose.

The subsequent attack on Smith left him with a concussion and an injury to a finger which will require surgery.

His wife’s purse was found by a member of the public outside the bar they’d all been in together, with the contents fully accounted for.

Smith’s lawyer, Tanya Surrey, told Judge Walker it was ‘‘very much a one-off moment of madness’’ for the defendant, who was ‘‘extremely remorseful for the situation he has found himself in’’.

Arguing he should be discharged without conviction, Surrey said there would be ‘‘significant consequences’’ for the managing director in respect of Immigration New Zealand if he were to be convicted.

He and his victim/attacker — who was discharged for injuring with intent — had participated in restorative justice and Smith had since made a $500 donation to St John Wakatipu.

Walker said there was a ‘‘very low likelihood’’ Smith would ever reoffend, he was remorseful and otherwise of good character.

Smith acknowledged his behaviour was ‘‘unforgivable’’ and what happened didn’t represent who he was, Walker said.

A ‘‘significant’’ mitigating factor was the assault Smith was subsequently subjected to, and, should he be convicted, there would be ‘‘ripple effects’’ for those reliant on him for employment.

It would also affect his ability to — eventually — travel overseas for work, which he needed to do regularly.

Police took a neutral stance on the application.

Ultimately Walker found the consequences would be out of all proportion and granted the discharge.

‘Just provided transport’

FRANKTON chef Keegan Robert Watson-Hopwood simply provided the transport for a drug deal, his lawyer says, but he’s still copped a conviction for supplying bathsalts in Queenstown last October.

Last Monday Watson-Hopwood admitted supplying class C-controlled n-ethypentylone and possession of one LSD tab on October 24.

Walker heard Watson-Hopwood was contacted by a man known as ‘Jake’ who, during a chat online, requested either MDMA or cocaine.

The defendant confirmed he had a mate who could hook him up with the latter.

They arranged to meet outside a Queenstown hotel and a short time after Jake arrived, Watson-Hopwood and two others pulled up in a white stationwagon.

A bag of white powder was presented and payment was requested.

But Jake disagreed with the sale price, so Watson-Hopwood and his mates left.

Soon after, though, an agreement on the price was reached.

Watson-Hopwood and his friends returned, payment was made and the drugs were handed over.

Police later found the LSD tab in Watson-Hopwood’s caravan.

His lawyer, Peter Redpath, said the offending was at the bottom end of the supply charge — the two others referenced were ‘‘more involved in the actual supply’’.

Watson-Hopwood ‘‘happened to be coming in to town’’ and supplied transport, he said.

For possession of LSD Watson-Hopwood was convicted and discharged, while for supplying drugs he was sentenced to 40 hours’ community work.

Dodgem cars

AN Arthurs Point scaffolder and recidivist drink-driver’s earned another conviction after hitting two parked cars on Queenstown Hill in November.

Durand Howard Todd, 29, was driving on Hallenstein St about midnight on November 7 when he lost control on a bend, hit a parked car, ricocheted into a second and smashed into a concrete wall before stopping on the pavement.

A breath test gave a reading of 740mcg, nearly three times the legal limit.

He admitted careless driving and drink-driving.

Todd’s been ordered to do 120 hours’ community work and pay $209.16 reparation.

He’s also been disqualified for 28 days with alcohol interlock and zero-alcohol licence provisions.