A British man holidaying in Queenstown has narrowly avoided jail for a night of drunken carnage that he can’t remember.
Benjamin Simon Hazell, 23, has instead been fined $4000, must pay $6123 in reparation and court costs of $833.34 after being sentenced in Queenstown District Court today (Tuesday).
Hazell pleaded guilty yesterday to seven charges ranging from burglary, to intentional damage, unlawfully being in a building and possession of a knife early in the morning of August 17.
The court heard that at about 1.30am, Hazell – who had been holidaying in Queenstown – was walking along Frankton Road after drinking on an organised pub crawl in town.
“He was described as being in an extreme state of intoxication,” prosecuting sergeant Ian Collin says.
While walking along Frankton Rd, Hazell lifted up a road cone and smashed the driver’s window of a privately-owned Mitsubishi car parked outside Earnslaw Lodge and climbed inside. He sat there for a while before getting out.
He then walked about 80 metres to the Garden Court apartments where he found three cars parked out the back. He took a nearby fire extinguisher, setting it off and spraying the contents on the ground and over the cars before smashing the entire rear window of a Toyota rental vehicle.
“He then walked over to a [rental] Subaru and repeatedly struck the drivers’ window and drivers’ door, leaving dents and smashing the plastic drip rail,” Collin says.
Hazell walked over to the accommodation block with the extinguisher and began to beat down the wooden door of one apartment where a Spanish couple – unknown to Hazell – were staying.
The couple pushed back on the door as Hazell tried to enter but “as the hole became larger the victims stood back in fear. They again tried to reason with the defendant. The defendant stated that he was on a special mission”, Collin says.
Inside the apartment, Hazell told the couple he needed car keys and he searched the room but couldn’t find any. Instead, he took two butter knives and a kitchen knife and walked back on to Frankton Rd, turning on to Melbourne Street.
At the nearby Quality Inn hotel car park, Hazell came across a Toyota rental car, smashed the driver’s window and climbed inside. He then exited, leaving behind the three knives which had become broken.
Hazell carried on walking along Frankton Rd till he was approached by police, when he told them he couldn’t remember a thing.
After spending last night in police custody while a pre-sentence report was written, Hazell was told by Judge Kevin Phillips today that if he was a New Zealand citizen or staying in the country longer he would have been sent to prison for three months. But because he is due to fly to Australia on Friday before heading home to the United Kingdom next week, he thought a fine “with a sting its tail” would be more appropriate.
“You are a tourist to New Zealand and in my view NZ does not need people like you in our country,” Phillips says.
“You are the type of person who is not welcome in our country. Hopefully, because of your convictions, this is a country you will not be able to return to.”