Jail over threat to kill girlfriend

Jan Falke appears on a CCTV monitor in court, accused of the attempted murder of his girlfriend...
Jan Falke appears on a CCTV monitor in court, accused of the attempted murder of his girlfriend when he allegedly tried to drive into Lake Dunstan. Photo: Rob Kidd
A German tourist who threatened to kill his girlfriend and nearly drove them into a lake has professed his love for the victim from the dock.

Jan Lukas Falke (21) previously pleaded guilty to five charges stemming from the January 22 incident and appeared in the High Court at Dunedin today.

He was convicted of one count each of threatening to kill, assault, driving with a breath-alcohol level of 584mcg; dangerous driving; and driving while prohibited.

Falke was jailed for nine months by Justice Rachel Dunningham, who granted his request to speak to the victim from the dock after sentencing.

The defendant apologised for his actions and said he had had “a long time to think about this whole incident”.

“I can't really feel it on my own skin but I can imagine what I've done to you,” he said.

Road workers repair wire rope guard rails at the scene after the incident. Photo ODT
Road workers repair wire rope guard rails at the scene after the incident. Photo ODT

In her victim-impact statement the woman questioned whether Falke had ever actually loved her.

She only had to wait minutes for the answer.

“Yes, I love you. I didn't know how to work out a relationship properly,” he said as she sobbed in the public gallery.

“I really hope you find happiness in your life.”

The Belgian woman had earlier told the court how her life had been changed by the incident.

“I want to understand what happened but I know that I probably never will,” she said.

“This is going to haunt me.”

She said she had suffered nightmares at least four times a week since the incident and had become more suspicious of everyone.

“It's going to take me a long time to accept the person I loved did this to me,” the woman said.

“I just want it all to be over.”

The summary of facts revealed it all took place after Falke threatened to harm himself amid a jealous rage, in which he sent the woman pictures of cuts on his arm and messages such as ‘‘let me die’’.

He lured the woman into his van, at the Champagne Gully camping area between Clyde and Cromwell about 8pm, under the pretence of wanting to talk.

When she got in his vehicle Falke reversed “very fast” and drove off fast up the gravel road from the camping site and headed towards Cromwell.

The defendant had become upset after the victim went to Clyde to get alcohol with a Belgian man, who was in a relationship with a French woman at the camping area.

It followed an argument earlier in the day about a brief relationship the woman had with another man in Kaitaia in October 2016.

As Falke drove along State Highway 8, he yelled: ‘‘I’m going to kill us. This is what you want’’.

He used the palm of his hand to push her head forcefully into the passenger window two to three times, knocking her glasses off.

Falke then failed to take a right-hand bend, drove off the road on to gravel and the van hit a wooden post, taking it out of the ground. He drove over the wire safety barrier and continued another 145m, knocking down or damaging 42 posts in the process.

He later told police the woman was behind the wheel.

Crown prosecutor Craig Power said Falke's interview with Probation was cause for concern.

The German was assessed as “grandiose, dogmatic and immature” in relation to his view of relationships.

Falke had described the incident as a “set of unfortunate circumstances”, the court heard.

Defence counsel Roger Eagles argued his client's attitude was a reflection of his youth and told Justice Dunningham the man was unable to pay the $5900 in damage he had caused.

The judge accepted a reparation order would be futile and imposed the jail term along with a 12-month driving ban.

Falke will be deported at the end of his sentence.