Discharged for ‘poleaxing’ in A’town

A Kingston mechanic who ‘‘poleaxed’’ a man with a rugby-style tackle in Arrowtown more than three years ago has been discharged without conviction.

Reuben Blair, 29, was charged with injuring with intent to injure after the June 13, 2020 incident, in which he also kicked and punched his victim as he lay on the ground.

At a judge-alone trial in Queenstown’s court last July, the victim and a friend gave evidence about ‘‘weird vibes’’ and a verbal exchange with a group of men as they left The Blue Door bar.

The victim said they were urinating in bushes in Buckingham Green when he was punched in the head from behind by one of Blair’s associates.

He ran after his assailant along Buckingham St, and just as he caught up, Blair tackled him from behind before kicking and punching him.

He suffered concussion, a head wound, whiplash and a shoulder injury for which he later required surgery.

Blair told the court he was sitting in a car ready to leave the township after drinking ‘‘four or five G&Ts’’ at the bar when he heard the victim threatening to ‘‘smash’’ one of his friends and begin chasing him down the street.

He got out of the car, and as he ran after them, he heard the victim threaten to stab his friend.

He tackled the victim at ‘‘full speed’’, putting him to the ground, then kicked and punched him in the belief he had a knife.

At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Russell Walker told Blair even if the tackle was reasonable force, his subsequent actions were not, and found the charge proven.

However, he left the door open for a discharge without conviction if Blair attended alcohol counselling and paid the victim reparation.

At Monday’s hearing in Queenstown, Walker said Blair had admitted to his pre-sentence report writer he was intoxicated and ‘‘went over
the top’’ during the incident.

He had provided references to the court that described him as a respected and involved member of the Kingston community.

A conviction could jeopardise his position as a certified vehicle inspector; he was the sole provider of warrants of fitness in the township, and
the work made up a significant portion of his income.

Walker said the defendant had attended six alcohol abuse counselling sessions, and had paid the victim $2000 reparation for emotional

He told Blair he hoped the court process had been a ‘‘considerable learning experience’’, and did not expect to see him back in court.

Ski pass fraud

A Cardona ski area worker who fraudulently obtained ski passes for her friends has been discharged without conviction, despite police objections.

Australian national Michelle Nguyen, 34, was working at Cardrona Alpine Resort’s Wānaka office on August 30 when she offered the passes to three friends who had arrived from Australia.

Using her access to the company’s computer system, she found a list of annual ski pass holders who’d yet to collect them.

She took photos of her friends, added them to the profiles of three randomly-selected pass holders, and issued her friends with the

She repeated the process two days later when a fourth friend arrived from Australia.

Her mates skied using the passes on four days, avoiding the $160-a-day cost.

Nguyen’s offending was discovered when the true holder of one of the passes went to Cardrona to collect it.

She was charged with unlawfully accessing a computer system, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.

In Queenstown’s court this week, counsel Bryony Shackell said the defendant’s actions were ‘‘foolish and opportunistic’’, but out of character.

She had no previous convictions, and felt ‘‘profound regret’’ about her offending.

A conviction would jeopardise her ability to enter Canada; her partner was a dual Canada-NZ citizen, and his family lived there.

It would also affect her ability to find employment.

Her friends had repaid the cost of the passes they had used, while Nguyen had carried out voluntary work and made a $180 donation to the Red Cross.

Prosecutor Dan Andrew said police opposed the application because the offending involved premeditation and a degree of sophistication.

Walker told Nguyen she’d come ‘‘very close’’ to gaining a criminal record, and had greatly under-estimated the potential consequences of a ‘‘misguided desire to help your friends’’.

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