Alpine Heliski Ltd has admitted knowingly and without authority guiding heliskiing in a conservation area – the Remarkables Conservation Area – an activity for which a concession is required.
The charge, laid under the Department of Conservation Act 1987, carries with it a maximum fine of $80,000.
DoC lawyer Pene Williamson said at about 1.30pm on August 4 a helicopter and about two groups of people were sighted in the Loch Linnhe block on the Remarkables Conservation Area.
The helicopter was sign written with “Alpine.heliski.com” and the groups were either skiing or boarding down the slope from an area known as Bears Ears, heading towards Lake Wakatipu.
Photographs were taken of the helicopter on the ground and one of the groups skiing downhill.
Ms Williamson said the heliskiing concession for the Loch Linnhe block on the Remarkables Conservation Area was granted by the Minister of Conservation to Totally Tourism, which trades as Harris Mountain Heliski.
A Doc ranger visited the site on August 6 after receiving the complaint from Harris Mountain Heliski.
“Ski tracks and boot marks were visible on the snow as well as pink `dazzle’ which is commonly used by guides to identify to a helicopter pilot the area where they wish clients to be picked up from,” Ms Williamson said.
The Doc ranger contacted Alpine Heliski Ltd’s managing director Tim O’Leary on August 7 and asked for an explanation of the apparently illegal activity.
Mr O’Leary replied later that day, stating the company had intended to heliski on a block on the Ben Nevis pastoral lease for which his company did have permission to heliski.
He told the Department ridge landings were covered by cloud that day meaning the company was unable to land safely.
“We moved to a lower landing and skied down the west face which is [a] Harris Mountains Heliski Doc area.
“We completed several runs each time trying to land on our permitted area, but the cloud persisted for the rest of the day.
“We are very sorry for our actions but at the time thought that we could work with Harris Mountains and there would not be any issues.”
Ms Williamson said Alpine Heliski held concessions to undertake heliskiing operations on other conservation land in the Southern Lakes, but that did not include any areas in the Remarkables Conservation Area.
Defence counsel Katy Baxter said an application for a discharge without conviction had been filed, however, the company no longer wished to pursue it.
Judge Turner convicted the company and remanded it to May 20 for sentencing.
Aussie groom-to-be in court after stag do
An Australian groom-to-be will spend part of his first day of wedded bliss in the Invercargill District Court facing charges of assault and assault with a weapon, stemming from an incident in Queenstown last Sunday.
Cameron Ritchie Muir (36), labourer, of Australia, was yesterday remanded without plea by Judge Michael Turner in the Queenstown District Court for allegedly assaulting William Moore, using a glass as a weapon and assaulting Danielle Couthlan, on April 18 at Queenstown.
Duty solicitor Sonia Vidal says Muir is due to be married on Thursday.
His bride was not involved in either incident.
“The bride is not particularly happy with the groom at the moment,” Ms Vidal said.
It was alleged Muir had initially thrown a glass at a barman in a Queenstown bar early on Sunday.
“The defendant threw his drink at the barman, the barman threw something back and then [the defendant] threw his glass.
“He was extremely intoxicated, he shouldn’t even have been in the bar.”
The glass shattered and Ms Vidal said the barman had since received medical attention and a “small piece of glass has been removed from the lower eyelid”.
Muir had $1000 available to make emotional harm reparation payments, however, Judge Turner said it was offending which warranted “more than a fine”.
Muir told Judge Turner it had been his first night in Queenstown and “it just got right out of hand”.
Muir was remanded on bail and ordered to surrender his passport.
A condition preventing him from entering licensed premises would be relaxed on Thursday, allowing him to attend his wedding in Cromwell, however, he was not to consume alcohol.
“It will be a dry wedding for you,” Judge Turner said.
“That’s fine with me, your Honour,” Muir replied.
Law graduate escapes conviction
An English tourist, who told police he was a “criminal lawyer” was discharged without conviction by Judge Michael Turner in the Queenstown District Court yesterday after admitting disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said Daniel Jake Beaumont (22), was outside Sky Bar on Camp St about 3.20am on April 18.
He arrived in the resort on a “camper van tour” with friends earlier that day and was intoxicated.
Beaumont attempted to gain entry to Sky Bar, but was refused due to his level of intoxication and behaviour.
Security staff had refused him entry several times but he stayed, “abused staff, making threats and trying to push past them”.
Police were called to help move Beaumont along as he was becoming more aggressive, Sgt Collin said.
Beaumont pushed the security staff member and threatened him, saying he was going to find him and “f*** you up, you better watch your back”.
Sgt Collin said he was restrained by staff and arrested by police.
“He continued his tirade of abuse and threats to police and upon arrival at the police station the defendant would not supply his details or allow officers to process him.
“While in the custody suite, as police attempted to search and deal with the defendant, he took up a fighting stance and raised his fists toward the officers processing him, flaying them around the officer’s face.”
Beaumont was restrained and placed in a police cell.
In court yesterday Beaumont told Judge Turner he had just graduated with a law degree and had begun was on his OE.
“I’d like to apologise for my behaviour that night – reading the report this morning I was absolutely … appalled.
“I had simply had too much to drink. There is no excuse.
“There is nothing I can say to account for that sort of behaviour, it’s unacceptable.”
Beaumont said the following day he went to the police station and was placed on bail, requiring him to surrender his passport, report daily to police and not to consume alcohol.
“I’ve done that.
“I’ve apologised to the people that I’ve caused problems to … and until today I didn’t know where the offence had occurred … I will go there this afternoon and apologise to them.”
Beaumont described his offending as “out of character” and said he was “disappointed with myself that it got to this stage”.
Following an adjournment, Judge Turner accepted letters of apology from Beaumont to police and staff at Sky Bar.
He told Beaumont he considered his apology in court to be “genuine”.
“You were drunk but that does not excuse what you did at all.
“You are a visitor to this country, you’re here to enjoy it, not cause problems … Your attitude, when spoken to by police, was such that police declined to give you diversion.”
However, Judge Turner said he was impressed by Beaumont’s attitude in court and believed the consequences of a conviction would be out of all proportion given the offending.
“I want to emphasise it’s not the fact that you’ve got yourself a law degree that [justifies] a [discharge without conviction] … I consider the consequences of a conviction for somebody your age … would be out of all proportion.”
He was ordered to pay $132.89 court costs on each charge.
Drink-driver tows boat with people on it
A Queenstown man driving a car and towing a boat containing passengers on Frankton Rd earlier this year was yesterday sentenced for driving with a breath alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.
In the Queenstown District Court yesterday Judge Michael Turner ordered Harrison Scott Dickson (24), apprentice builder, to pay a $1400 fine, $132.89 court costs and disqualified him for nine months.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said just before 9pm on February 16 police witnessed the boat, in tow, with occupants “standing inside” it.
Police stopped the vehicle, driven by Dickson, who exhibited signs of having consumed alcohol.
A breath test gave a reading of 1283mcg – the legal limit is 400mcg.
He told police he was driving the boat from Frankton Marina to a nearby address.
Judge Turner says Dickson was fortunate not to be facing other charges.
“Your level of culpability is high.”
Threats to kill in a supermarket
A Dunedin man who abused staff and customers at a Wanaka supermarket before later threatening to decapitate a police officer was remanded to July 15 for sentencing by Judge Michael Turner in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.
James Stephen Smith, (21)of Dunedin, admitted threatening to kill John Osborne, threatening to kill Rachael McCarthy, resisting a constable and assaulting Sean Hurley with intent to injure him, all at Wanaka on March 31.
A further charge of disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence was withdrawn.
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said Smith was at Wanaka New World at 7.45pm in an intoxicated state.
He repeatedly approached staff and customers using abusive language before being approached by a store supervisor who asked him to leave.
He refused and continued to approach staff and customers being abusive and “in some cases touching them”.
Sgt Collin said the store supervisor, a woman, approached Smith again and asked him to leave.
“He put his face very near to hers … and said ‘if you try to do anything I will kill you’.”
The threat was believed by the woman who was shaken and upset.
Police were called and while Smith was being taken to the police vehicle following his arrest he “pushed out” at police officers in an attempt to escape.
He was restrained, put in handcuffs and taken to the Wanaka Police Station where he was uncooperative and refused to give police his personal details.
After being put in a cell he removed his clothing and started to kick and punch the cell door, Sgt Collin said.
Smith also placed a mattress against the door so police could not see inside the cell.
Police entered the cell and Smith “raised his fists in a boxer stance”
and told police to “come on”.
He punched one officer to the face and forehead, causing lacerations to his forehead and nose.
While being handcuffed again Smith dug his fingernails into the officer’s hand and kicked out at his leg, causing bruising and swelling.
He “repeatedly threatened to kill [the officer], cut off his head and cut his throat” and refused to provide any explanation to police.
Judge Turner asked defence counsel Nic Soper: “What was he on?”
Mr Soper said Smith had undertaken some toxicology tests and further tests were being conducted.
“His actions are inexplicable.”
Judge Turner said the incident “seems bizarre”, convicted Smith and remanded him on bail until his sentencing.
He ordered an emotional harm report in respect of all the victims; a presentence report to consider home and community detention options and an alcohol and drug assessment.
Included in his bail conditions were a curfew from 10pm to 7am and an order not to consume or possess alcohol and drugs, including K2 or any other synthetic drugs.
Arrowtown real estate agent Fraser John Skinner (60) was fined $1300 after admitting drink-driving on March 22. Skinner was breath tested by police at 10.15pm while he was driving on the Frankton-Ladies Mile Highway. Sgt Collin said Skinner blew 1012mcg _ two-and-a-half times the legal limit. “He stated he thought he was okay to drive.” Defence counsel Tony Oxnevaad said Skinner had been organising two cricket matches with a touring team and consumed alcohol after the first match before making the “foolish decision” to drive. “He makes no excuse, he says what he did was stupid, he’s disappointed with himself and embarrassed.” Mr Oxnevaad said Skinner had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and had not driven a vehicle since he was arrested a month ago. Judge Turner said Skinner had one previous conviction from 11 years ago – had that conviction been more recent he would have faced community work. He was also disqualified for eight months.
“I was going to make it nine but I had regard to him having been off the road for a month already.”
Elliot James Warwood (24), mechanic, of Lake Hawea, was sentenced to 70 hours’ community work and disqualified for eight months after admitting drink-driving. Warwood was stopped by police on Ballantyne Rd on April 14, with a breath test giving a reading of 628mcg. He had one previous conviction for drink-driving in 2011. Judge Turner ordered authorisation for Warwood to apply for a “Zero Alcohol Licence” following the expiration of his disqualification period, which would be effective for three years from the date of issue. A failure to apply for that licence would mean he would be considered a suspended driver.
Craig Garth Roger (38), carpenter, of Athol, drink-driving, 605mcg (third or subsequent), State Highway 6, January 6, four months’ community detention from April 26, 300 hours’ community work, nine months’ supervision, to complete any programme treatment and counselling, including residential if appropriate, disqualified one year, six months.
Aveneer Kumar Simon (21), of Fiji, customer services manager, drink-driving, 709mcg, Frankton Rd, March 31, fined $710, court costs $132.89, disqualified six months; driving while suspended, Frankton Rd, April 16, fined $250, court costs $132.89, disqualified seven months (concurrent).
Akshay Gaur (23), receptionist, drink-driving, 611mcg, Beach St, April 22, fined $620, court costs $132.89, disqualified six months.
Darren Francis Hooper (35), hairdresser, sustained loss of traction, Hensman Rd, April 5, fined $350, court costs $132.89, disqualified, disqualified six months.
Brennon Jay Taiwhaneke Hohepa (36), disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence,Queenstown, April 13, fined $200, court costs $132.89.
Daniel Michael Moynihan (31), of Frankton, breach of release conditions, March 13 at Queenstown, 40 hours’ community work.
Daniel Tarcali (22), of Lake Hayes Estate, breach community work, April 6 at Queenstown, convicted and discharged.
Paul Douglas Paterson (30), concrete worker, possession of cannabis for supply (indictably), April 1, at Queenstown; sold cannabis to a person over the age of 18 (indictably), between March 25 and April 1, at Queenstown, convicted and remanded to June 4 for sentence.