Warning about drinking issues

A Queenstown lifeguard who racked up five offences in five months has been told by a sentencing judge to sort out his alcohol issues.

Matthaeus Te Raroa Heimer (22) assaulted two men in separate incidents, injured himself sufficiently to get put in hospital as a result of punching a fire alarm box and falling, as well as twice being caught drink-driving while on a learner licence.

The incidents resulted in five charges on which he was sentenced by Judge Russell Walker in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

The first of two assault charges related to a party at his flat on December 4.

About 9pm, a man assaulted a woman at the party, prompting Heimer’s girlfriend to attempt to eject the man from the house.

The man responded by pushing her against a wall by her throat, causing the defendant to punch him twice in the face, pull him down towards him and punch him twice more.

The victim was also charged with assault.

In the morning of New Year’s Day, the defendant was drunk when he visited his girlfriend at her apartment and found her in bed with another man.

Enraged, he began punching the man to the body, but was overpowered and thrown out of the building.

Heimer then punched a fire alarm box outside, smashing the glass and badly cutting his hand.

Bleeding heavily, he re-entered the apartment but was pushed outside, where he fell and hit his head on concrete.

An ambulance was called and he was taken to Lakes District Hospital for treatment for his cut hand and concussion.

The victim was uninjured.

The defendant’s drinking has also twice proved his undoing while driving.

On November 28, he was caught drink-driving (599mcg) on Frankton Rd while on a learner licence.

On April 29, he was again stopped on Frankton Rd after being observed speeding and driving erratically.

He unsuccessfully tried to swap seats with the front-seat passenger before recording a breath-alcohol level of 885mcg.

Still on the learner licence, he told police he had decided to drive because he was the "least intoxicated" person in his group.

Counsel Kieran Tohill said Heimer had a clean record before moving to Queenstown, but got into a "drinking lifestyle" in the resort town.

"It’s been a misadventure ... the common denominator is alcohol.

"Without alcohol, he’s a sensible man who makes informed decisions."

Judge Walker told the defendant he had reached a crossroads.

"If you continue down this path, you’re going to put yourself in a situation where you will lose your liberty."

He sentenced Heimer to 100 hours’ community work, 12 months’ supervision to enable intervention for his alcohol issues, and ordered him to pay $250 reparation.

He was also disqualified for 28 days, with alcohol interlock provisions.

-- Guy Williams




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