Community work not available

A judge has lambasted the Queenstown Lakes District Council for failing to find community work for a Luggate man.

Alexander Colin Martin (30), an Australian paragliding instructor, applied for a discharge without conviction five months ago after admitting charges of burglary and intentional damage at the Masonic Lodge in Wanaka on January 23 last year.

At the September 2 hearing, Judge Kevin Phillips said he would consider granting Martin a discharge if he completed 200 hours’ community work.

On December 4, when told the defendant had completed those hours at the Glendhu Bay Motor Camp, he said that did not qualify as community work because the motor camp was a commercial operation.

However, he gave Martin another chance, remanding him on bail until yesterday.

If he completed 200 hours of actual community work, he would still consider granting the discharge.

Martin’s counsel, Paige Noorland, said in the Queenstown District Court yesterday the defendant had "tried all avenues" to find community work, but had not been able to do so.

That included approaching the council, which had turned him down.

Judge Phillips said the council’s attitude was "appalling".

"They get an offer of 200 hours’ free labour, and they reject it out of hand."

On the night of his offending, Martin was drinking at bars in downtown Wanaka, and ended up in a bar near the Masonic Lodge.

He told his drinking companions about his dislike of the "secretive" Freemasons.

About midnight, he went to the lodge, picked up a large rock and used it to break open the door, then used it to smash chairs and windows inside.

He then broke a door leading into its meeting room, where he smashed another window, furniture and the Freemasons’ symbol.

At September’s discharge hearing, Judge Phillips said the defendant ‘‘caused mayhem’’ as he smashed his way into the building’s inner sanctum.

Ms Noorland said a conviction would impact on the defendant’s ability to establish his career.

He needed to travel overseas to accelerate his training process, and a conviction had the potential to restrict his ability to enter some countries.

It would also impact on his future employability.

Judge Phillips said yesterday he was reluctant to enter a conviction because of the impact it would have on the defendant, but had to comply with the law.

He sentenced Martin to nine months’ supervision to enable intervention for drug and alcohol issues.


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