First conviction for lockdown breach

Dunedin has seen its first person convicted of breaching the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Shaun Te Rangi Whitau (52) pleaded guilty just a couple of days after police laid the charge on Tuesday when he was found more than 100km from his Oamaru home without reasonable excuse.

It was the fourth time the defendant had been caught flouting the rules of the Level 4 lockdown, court documents revealed.

Whitau was originally stopped by police in Don St, Oamaru, on April 8, when he was provided with “clear education” about what he was allowed to do.

Four days later, however, the man was the passenger in a vehicle pulled over in Waikouaiti.

He was served with a formal warning letter regarding the breach but it was still not enough to deter him.

On April 14 — within 48 hours — the same Toyota was stopped again by police.

Whitau told officers they were heading to Dunedin to get a replacement windscreen but was firmly informed that was no reason to be travelling.

He and the driver were ordered to return to Oamaru but were stopped yet again an hour later in Waitati — closer to Dunedin.

After an initial appearance in court, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charge as well as to counts of driving while forbidden and two of receiving.

Whitau was seen driving past the Oamaru Police Station at speed soon after the lockdown began.

When police tracked him down, he was "angry and abusive" and claimed he had been unable to get his licence because the AA was closed.

Days later, police executed a search warrant at Whitau's home where they found two stolen vehicles.

Judge Michael Crosbie granted the defendant bail to Oamaru yesterday where he was ordered to remain on a 24-hour curfew and abstain from alcohol.

Whitau will be sentenced next month.




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