Mechanic got what he deserved: court


A judge dismantled Queenstown mechanic Karl Abbott’s modus operandi as he rejected his sentence appeal.

Justice Stephen Kos gave a droll summary of Abbott’s offending as he explained the reasons why the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Abbott was handed seven months’ home detention back in March on three charges relating to a rip-off repair.

He lied to a customer, an insurance company and the Disputes Tribunal - saying he’d repaired a car when he hadn’t.

Abbott’s lawyer John Westgate argued the home detention sentence was excessive.

Justice Stephen Kos, in his summary for all three appeal judges, says: “Mr Abbott is a mechanic.

“His method of fixing the complainant’s automatic transmission was to leave the faulty one in place, say he had replaced it with a reconditioned unit, and bill the complainant (and his insurer) $966.

“Unsurprisingly, the mechanical problem persisted.

“Unsurprisingly also, the complainant took the vehicle back to Mr Abbott. The problem continued.”

Abbott was sentenced on two counts of dishonestly using a document and one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice for presenting a document claiming he’d bought a replacement transmission to the Dispute Tribunal.

Sentencing judge Michael Turner took the latter as the lead charge, with a starting point of 12 months’ imprisonment.

He ‘uplifted’ that by four months for the other two counts, two months for Abbott’s previous convictions and then discounted three months for Abbott’s remorse, the reparation he’d paid, and his guilty plea.

The sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment was commuted to seven months’ home detention.

Westgate says the four-month uplift was “excessive and disproportionate”, as the victim was not vulnerable as suggested.

The two-month uplift was also excessive as Abbott’s previous convictions were more than a decade ago, he says, and Turner didn’t discount enough on the remorse, reparation and plea.

A sentence of five or six months would have been more appropriate, Westgate says.

But the justices disagreed.

“No possible basis exists on which the sentence in this case should be altered,” Kos’ summary says.

They viewed Turner’s starting point of 12 months’ imprisonment as “lenient”.

The attempt to pervert the course of justice was not “ham-fisted” as Westgate suggested, as it initially succeeded.

The two-month uplift for previous convictions was “entirely appropriate”, with the offending occurring in 2005, 2004 and 1998.

And the discount was “generous”, the justices say, given Abbott had only pleaded guilty during his trial.

On remorse, the pre-sentence report found it appeared to be “more about the stressful situation he has put himself and his partner in than about any harm caused to the victim”.

The appeal was dismissed.