Theft sequel in ‘neighbour from hell’ case


A Queenstown man has avoided a conviction for impulsively burgling a ‘neighbour from hell’.

Rhys Timothy Clark, 31, stole a skateboard from the Hensman Road garage of Alistair Hey in September 2014.

Moments before the burglary, Hey had sprayed weedkiller in the eyes of Clark’s dad Tim.

That earned Hey, then 54, a second conviction for physically assaulting a neighbour.

Soon after he took it, Rhys Clark threw the skateboard back onto Hey’s drive, damaging it.

Defence lawyer Liam Collins told a judge in Queenstown’s court last Monday you’d struggle to find a burglary of less gravity in New Zealand.

“The circumstances of this case are unique - in my submission a conviction would not serve the interest of justice.”

Collins says Clark, diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, had acted impulsively.

Judge Mark Callaghan agreed, saying while it could be viewed he took the skateboard out of “spite”, he’d not gone to Hey’s property with the intention of taking it.

The judge says: “You were doing something to assist your father and the actions in taking the skateboard were spontaneous and explicable by your mental disorder.”

The consequences of a conviction for someone with Rhys Clark’s mental health were out of all proportion with the gravity of the offending, Callaghan says.

Tim Clark had gone to remonstrate with Hey after he’d subjected the Clark family to two days of music blasted at their house.

In March last year, Hey, then 54, was sentenced to 70 hours’ community service for common assault and ordered to pay $1500 reparation.

But he’ll get $1000 of that back now.

Rhys Clark was discharged without conviction but ordered to pay $1000 in emotional harm to Hey.

The police case had been proved at a judge alone-trial, and Rhys Clark was also ordered to pay $500 towards prosecution costs, all within 28 days.