Judge fires up over Queenstown stag’s antics

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An Otago farmer who set fire to a Queenstown bar while on his stag do has been slated in court.

Queenstown District Court Judge Michael Turner told 28-year-old William Huntly Stuart Jones that his actions at the Pig and Whistle on January 2 could have been life-threatening, referring to the deadly nightclub fire in Brazil.

“Two-hundred-and-thirty-two people were killed overnight in a fire in a Brazil nightclub,” Turner says.

“I don’t know how that [Brazilian] fire started but you deliberately set fire to items in this bar. You put yourself and a number of other people at risk by your actions.

“I regard this as serious offending.”

Jones, who lives in Shannon, today admitted a charge of criminal damage for lighting his nurse’s outfit on fire and throwing it on to a table where other patrons were sitting, while on his stag do. He then went to the bar’s female toilet and set a large toilet roll and its plastic dispenser alight.

The bar had to be evacuated while the fire service arrived. The toilet roll dispenser was destroyed and the floor was moderately damaged, the court heard.

Judge Turner convicted Jones and remanded him on bail for sentence on March 11. He ordered a pre-sentence report to address community detention and home detention options.

Gambler admits TAB betting slip fraud

A Queenstown man has admitted ripping off the TAB to fuel his gambling problem.

Cyril John Cracknell, 48, pleaded guilty in Queenstown District Court today to five charges of unlawfully obtaining betting vouchers, one charge of accessing a computer system and a charge of theft between July 1 and December 5 last year.

Cracknell used a set of keys he’d stolen previously to access a self-service betting machine – after he’d observed the manager of Arrowtown’s New Orleans Hotel accessing it several months prior to the offending.

On December 5, he went to the New Orleans Hotel where he spent several hours drinking and using the self-service machine.

At 8pm, when the bar was empty, he took the keys and changed the machine to a mode that enabled him to print the last ticket. The reprinted voucher produced a credit of $209.60 and after placing a $6 bet, he cashed in the remaining amount.

Cracknell continued doing this four more times, claiming a total of $575.60.

When police spoke to him, Cracknell admitted the offending, saying “the temptation and then greed became too much”, the court heard.

Cracknell has 18 prior convictions for fraud, 12 for theft and one for forgery.

Judge Michael Turner convicted and remanded Cracknell for sentencing in Christchurch District Court on April 24. He ordered a report to consider options for home detention or community detention.

Beating up bouncers

Irish carpenter Sean Paul Connolly admitted a charge of assault with a weapon after using a metal pole to hit a bouncer.

Connolly, 29, was refused entry to the Boiler Room on December 27 and after a verbal altercation in which the bouncer pushed Connolly three times, Connolly picked up a rope pole, hitting the bouncer once in the hip and upper-leg area. Connolly then punched the bouncer on the chin.

He eventually presented himself at the police station after media reports about cops looking for him.

Judge Turner says: “This is a situation that’s all-too frequent in this town. A young man has a skin-full of liquor, gets fired up, loses control and lashes out.”

Connolly was convicted, sentenced to 100 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $1000 in emotional harm reparation.

Queenstown man Danny Thomas, 22, admitted spitting on a bouncer and possessing an offensive weapon.

After being refused entry at Barmuda on December 22, King pulled out a fork from his pocket and advanced on the bouncer. He was observed by someone else who alerted the bouncer to what was going on.

King threw the fork away and the bouncer and another staff member tackled him to the ground, prompting King to spit in the bouncer’s face before police arrived.

King admitted to Judge Turner he had a drinking problem and wanted help. He was convicted, fined $500 in emotional harm reparation and ordered to undertake six months’ supervision.

Stealing from employer

Former Pub on Wharf duty manager Ryan Isaac Mathieson has been sentenced to 90 hours’ community work for stealing from his ex-employers.

Mathieson, 29, admitted giving away free drinks, accessing the tipping jar, using another staff member’s discount and forging access to in-house accounts last year, causing a loss of $136 to the bar.

He was also ordered to pay $118 in reparation.

Home detention for assaulting cop

A Fernhill man who assaulted a Queenstown police officer with his own torch has been sentenced to home detention.

David Keith Nicol, 31, was arrested in Queenstown CBD on October 22 after swearing at police while drunk.

Queenstown District Court heard this afternoon (Monday) that while being processed at the police station, Nicol snatched Sergeant Steve Watt’s torch from his jacket and hit him on the head.

The officer received a small cut, which was glued together at the hospital.

Nicol pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to three months’ home detention, 75 hours’ community work and ordered to make an emotional harm payment of $300 to Watt. Nicol must also complete a drug and alcohol assessment.

Judge Michael Turner says: “You have a bad history.

“Repeat offending of this nature will inevitably lead to an actual sentence of imprisonment for you.”

Nicol, who will serve his sentence at an address in Matamata, Waikato, pleaded guilty to a disorderly behaviour charge relating at a previous appearance and was fined $100 plus costs.

Butcher admits theft 

A butcher has pleaded guilty to theft after stealing a cell phone misplaced by its owner.

Lukas Armour Southey, 22, had already returned the $1000 iPhone 5 to its owner when he was identified by police from CCTV stills, published in Mountain Scene.

But he admitted he had intended to keep the phone he found on a counter at The Warehouse in Frankton on December 18, not realising it was unlawful.

Southey pocketed the phone then threw its cover into a skip, before inadvertently deleting its contents by syncing it to his own computer. Southey later had a change of heart and agreed to return the phone when one of its owner’s friends sent a text message. Southey left it in a letter box and it was recovered.

Judge Turner says: “It’s not finders-keepers.

“Somebody had left the phone by mistake and it was your legal obligation to hand it in.”

Duty solicitor Mike Newell told the court Southey had received news of a medical condition on the same day and was acting out of character. Southey has no history of dishonesty.

Southey was convcited and ordered to appear before the court in nine months if called upon. Southey was ordered to pay $150 emotional harm to the owner.

Drink-driving

Frankton concrete worker and recidivist drink-driver Glenn Neville Rumler was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work for drink-driving.

Rumler, whose last conviction for driving drunk was seven years ago, was stopped randomly on December 19 and produced a reading of 574 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400 mcg.

He was also disqualified for 13 months.

Seventeen-year-old waitress Chelsea McLoughlin was fined $750 and disqualified for eight months after drink-driving and causing an accident on Fernhill Road.

McLoughlin, who lost control of the car she was driving and crashed into the kerb on January 5, produced a reading of 742mcg of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit for youths under 20 is zero.

Hungarian man Daniel Tarcali was sentenced to 120 hours’ community work for driving over the limit.

Tarcali was caught on Ballarat St on December 14 driving with 121 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

The 22-year-old Lake Hayes Estate resident has a previous drink-driving conviction as a youth. Judge Turner ordered him to be subject to the zero-alcohol licence provisions, which last three years after his six-month disqualification period.

Chilean Valentina Isabel Torres Rocha, 26, was ordered to complete 100 hours’ community work for driving on Stanley St on January 27 with 583mcg of alcohol in her system.