Young child left alone in Queenstown


A Queenstown woman who failed to pick up a child from the school bus has appeared in court.

The 36-year-old was convicted of leaving a child under the age of 14 without suitable supervision or care.

The youngster had expected to be met off the bus on the afternoon of September 28. When the woman did not turn up, the child walked alongside a busy Queenstown road to a house where the woman lived.

The youngster then waited 40 minutes before walking to a nearby hotel for help.

Judge Michael Turner, sitting at Queenstown District Court on Monday, heard on a previous occasion the child had found the woman drunk and passed out on a bed. The child had walked to the same hotel and told reception staff the woman was dead.

Turner asked the woman how that makes her feel.

“Terrible,” she says.

The woman, who claimed she was unable to pick up the child due to a flat tyre on a trip to Kingston, has sought voluntary help for alcohol issues and was convicted but discharged.

Turner says he will not add to the woman’s financial problems with a fine. The charge is a ‘fine-only’ matter.

Kitchen hand jailed for hitting woman

A Queenstown kitchen hand with a history of violence has been jailed for hitting a woman.

Johnny Mateo, 39, was arrested in early August after striking the woman in the face during a row about an impounded car.

Mateo, of Lomond Crescent, had been driving the woman’s car while banned from New Zealand roads. It was impounded for 28 days when he was stopped by police.

Lawyer Sonia Vidal, duty solicitor, says: “He had been working that night [of the argument].

“He had not had much alcohol but there has been this inability to deal with conflict other than resorting to violence.”

Mateo had a string of previous convictions including aggravated robbery, assaults and assaulting police, but had not been in trouble for seven years.

Queenstown District Court heard the woman had “lashed out” at Mateo after discovering her car had been impounded.

He then hit her in the face, causing bruising to the bridge of her nose and beneath her eyes.

Judge Turner says: “Because of your violent history, the nature of this assault and your poor performance on community-based sentences I do not consider a community-based sentence, or community work, appropriate.”

Mateo had objected the option of electronic tagging and was sentenced to seven weeks in jail.

Expensive fire alarm prank

A 21-year-old Queenstowner who set off a fire alarm in Stratton House retail arcade has been ordered to pay more than $1000 to the fire service.

Eli Baker, of Larch Hill Place, admitted setting off the false alarm on Wednesday, September 19, while drunk in the arcade, beneath SkyCity casino.

The casino, two restaurants and other businesses were evacuated and two fire engines full of volunteer fire fighters arrived.

Queenstown District Court head Baker told police at the time his actions were “drunken shenanigans” and he was “saving lives”.

Judge Michael Turner says: “A huge amount of tax payers’ money, over $100m a year, is spent on responding to false alarms and they can only recover about $4m from people like you.”

Baker apologised to the fire fighters and people he had inconvenienced when prompted by the judge. “I’m sorry for my actions from a result of my drinking issue,” Baker says.

Judge Turner convicted him and ordered he complete a six-month supervision order to tackle his drinking. And he was ordered to pay $1150 in reparations to the fire service, at $20 per week.

Drug conviction for chef

A Queenstown chef found with 42 grams of cannabis after police searched his house looking for allegedly stolen goods has appeared in court.

Luke Anthony Wilson, 28, was convicted and sentenced at Queenstown District Court this afternoon (Monday) to 200 hours’ community service for possession.

Police had executed a search warrant at is Fernhill home after Wilson was accused of stealing a $450 pair of headphones from a Queenstown car park.

Wilson denies the theft and the headphones were not found at his home – but officers did discover the cannabis worth $600, two pipes and $130 in cash in the same container as the drug.

Judge Michael Turner heard Wilson had admitted to police he traded the cannabis with friends for “goods and services” but denied dealing.

Lawyer Mike Newell, representing Wilson, says: “We’re not dealing with a man who makes money on dealing drugs, not a commercial operation. He’s a man who uses drugs and has friends and associates who use drugs.”

Wilson is due to appear at a two-hour status hearing next June about the theft of the headphones, which he denies.