Queenstown teen vandals escape court

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The partying Wakatipu teens who vandalised a luxury Crown Range property won’t face charges – instead they’re on New Year’s Eve clean-up duty as punishment.

The 14 Wakatipu High senior students, many of them school leavers, trashed the yard of an exclusive Crown Range property during an end-of-exam booze-up on November 22.

Security camera footage, local sergeant Steve Watt says, showed the group “gallivanting in the spa and surrounding garden area and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, smashing bottles and urinating through the yard and potted plants”.

The youths, who’d originally been partying next door, could have faced penalties of a $2000 fine or three months’ imprisonment for being unlawfully on property.

Sergeant Watt says they won’t face charges because the Singaporean property owner, while devastated at the damage to his local holiday retreat, was keen the youngsters undergo some form of restorative justice instead.

“Obviously he’s got plenty of money so he wasn’t worried about reparation which he would’ve got through the diversion process.

“He’s been graceful enough to allow the kids to do some alternative action,” he says.

“He was keen for them to do something to help the community and sort of show them, I suppose, the ills of drinking, and that seemed like a perfect solution which we’ve been able to facilitate,” sergeant Watt tells Mountain Scene.

Watt says he’s liaised with Queenstown Lakes District Council and organised for the teenage culprits to meet him at 5am downtown on New Year’s Day: “We’ve been designated some areas that my merry bunch of men and women will tidy up to aid the council.”

Wakatipu High principal Steve Hall, who was “absolutely gutted” when he heard about his students’ drunken antics, calls their punishment “a good community solution”.