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The first man in Dunedin to be arrested over breaching the Covid-19 lockdown took less than 24 hours to break the law, a court has heard.
Ricki Santana Calvert (30) spent five weeks behind bars after being charged with two breaches of the Level 4 restrictions, Judge Michael Turner told the Dunedin District Court at last week’s sentencing.
It was only that which saved the defendant from a term of imprisonment, he said.
Calvert was sentenced to three months’ community detention and nine months supervision on two charges of breaching the lockdown but the court heard there could have been several more breaches.
The country went into lockdown at 11.59pm on March 25, accompanied by a barrage of publicity informing the public about limitations on travel and associating with others.
At 9.30pm the next day — a little more than 20 hours into the lockdown — Calvert was caught visiting mates in Mosgiel, 15km from his home, and given a warning. It made no difference and early the next morning he was caught visiting friends in Kaikorai Valley Rd.
On March 28, officers pulled Calvert over while he was driving around Corstorphine with someone from another bubble.
While it was the defendant’s third indiscretion, police opted for a gentle approach, again warning him.
Calvert’s cavalier attitude continued on March 29 — making it four breaches in four days — when police attended a domestic-violence callout and found him consorting with others in South Dunedin.
He was stopped twice more driving with people from another bubble — including a 5-year-old child — before the patience of authorities was exhausted.
On April 7, Calvert was stopped by police returning from a visit to see extended family.
He said his car was not running very well and he wanted his cousin to fix it.
Despite seven known breaches in 13 days, Calvert was allowed bail and ordered to remain at his St Kilda home.
Four days later, he was charged again.
The defendant told police a convoluted story about picking up an inhaler for his mother and borrowing a car, which he was returning to its owner when he was stopped.
The reckless conduct resulted in him being remanded in custody.
Judge Turner said the police approach was “lenient”.
Calvert exposed himself and members of the public to a virus that the Government was desperately trying thwart.
He was also convicted on a domestic assault from October 2019.
Judge Turner imposed 200 hours’ community work in lieu of fines Calvert owed.
Eight breaches, 17 days
March 25: Level 4 lockdown begins at 11.59pm.
March 26: Calvert is caught visiting friends in Mosgiel.
March 27: Defendant is found with others from outside his bubble in Kaikorai Valley Rd.
March 28: He is stopped in Corstorphine driving with friend.
March 29: Found in someone’s home when police respond to family-harm callout.
April 2: Calvert is pulled over in Andersons Bay Rd with passengers from outside his bubble.
April 5: He is again stopped by police making an inessential journey with friends.
April 7: Calvert is charged by police after driving to his cousin’s house to get his car fixed.
April 11: Police catch him driving again, 3km from his home, this time while on bail.