Monday Court Report, 24 June 2013

Monday Court Report, 24 June 2013

Nardine Atarina Whakarau, 40, unemployed of Hoon Hay, got a bit of a lucky break from both the prosecution and judge Doherty today.

The prosecution dropped one charge entirely, which seemed to be simply a duplicating error. However the remaining charge, on first look, appeared quite serious.

Police had attended at her address on an unrelated matter on 21 April and discovered, well quite simple, cannabis everywhere. The amount added up to about 1.25 kilograms in weight.

However the prosecution had already decided that, as much of it was low grade leaf (referred to in court as “cabbage”) and only some 280 grams as the more potent “buds” that it would be considered for her “own use” only.

(It seems to me that 280 grams, equivalent to 10 ounces in the old measure, is one hell of a large amount for  the “personal use” of any single person; (with the possible exception of medicinal use requirements of a cancer or HIV-AIDS patient). I guess she is just a “heavy user” of the herb).

So with no dealing charges, she was charged with the lesser offence of cultivating cannabis. She had previous convictions for cultivating cannabis in 1995 and an offence under the misuse of drugs act in 2006.

However His Honour gave her credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and noted that in the past she had successfully completed her community work order obligations. He also referred to assistance she was getting for alcohol related issues.

He sentenced her to 160 hours community work. Unsurprisingly, he ordered the 1.25 kilograms of cannabis recovered by police, be destroyed.

Tristram William Rossiter, 18, was in court because some time between 20 April and 11 May, he gained access to a locked internal office while the owners were away, and stole two credit-cards. He then went on s spending spree in Christchurch and Timaru, spending up big on clothing, electrical goods, accommodation, flights and pretty much anything else that took his fancy.

The total bill according to court paperwork last week was $11, 512.11 . However there were two other figures mentioned in court today, one being far higher at $21,040 and another figure around the $10,000 mark. Possibly one explanation for the different figures is that some goods may have been recovered. However with such a large discrepancy and the amounts differing on various documents, the judge ordered the matter to be remanded to a later date. He took the opportunity to order that, in the meantime, reports be prepared about whether electronic monitoring would be an option when it comes to sentencing.

The case of Kelly Gene Smith, 36, of West End in Palmerston North came up once again. He had failed to appear at Christchurch Court on Monday of last week, but was represented in his absence, by counsel Miss Millen, under instructions from Miss Litt.

Last week Judge Watson had ordered a warrant for his arrest for non-attendance, but allowed the warrant to lie in court for a week so that Mr Smith could attend at Christchurch District Court voluntarily.

Today he was in court. Represented again by Miss Millen on behalf of Miss Litt. He was remanded at large until August 30 for a Pre-Committal Conference and with two further matters to be referred back to the Palmerston North Court by Registrar’s Remand.

A certain Mr Mason (sorry I didn’t hear his first name and the paperwork for his case was not among the Press Sheets made available on the day) was up on some 26 charges, which ran to 19 pages of court documents.

Slightly aghast at what lay before him, Judge Doherty said to the police prosecutor “perhaps the sergeant can give us the pocket-version of the facts”.

Mr Mason’s modus operandi had been to phone elderly people living alone telling them he was from the Digital Television Company. He would then turn up at their door. Upon examining their televisions he would claim it required some parts or an upgrade, or in some cases, the need of an aerial or Freeview box.

He walked away with about $160 from many of the elderly victims and sometimes, quite a lot more (in some cases over $400). Reparations were being sought to the amount of $3,363.

He was convicted and remanded on bail until 10 September to allow a probation report to be prepared.

The judge ordered that report to include details as to whether an electronically monitored sentence may be appropriate, however he warned Mr Mason that due to the number of individual offences committed and that the victims being specifically targeted were particularly frail, aged, and in some cases disabled, that in all likelihood, he would be looking at a sentence of imprisonment.

One defendant I cannot name. He actually doesn’t have name suppression, but I just missed hearing his name entirely, and it was not in the paperwork I had examined earlier.

However what makes this case interesting, is that the company he worked for DID have interim name suppression.

Counsel for the defendant explained that although it was unusual for her to be speaking on the company’s behalf, it had suffered loss of clients already (until the earlier, interim suppression order was effected).

The judge ordered that the name suppression of the company which had employed the defendant, be continued until sentencing has occurred (expected to be at a date in September).

The defendant, had been working for a cleaning company (which I am not allowed to name) and had taken $1,100 in Australian currency from a wallet which he found unattended at a location he was cleaning. Reparation of NZ $1314 is being sought.

Although he pled guilty through counsel to that charge of “theft in a special relationship” more than 10 other charges were withdrawn by the prosecution.

Jacqueline Jay Jay Pohatu, 31, of Bryndwr had perhaps the day’s most interesting story to tell.

At 6 pm on 31 May she had “run interference” around a security guard who tried to detain a friend of hers as they left a Supervalue supermarket. The friend was in the process of stealing a pregnancy test-kit. Accused of punching the guard in the face, Jacqueline Pohatu pled guilty at the earliest opportunity. Counsel said she realised that the security guard was just doing their job.

Noting that alcohol was an issue, Judge Doherty fined her $350, with $132.89 court costs and said that the amount could be paid at the rate of $20 a week from her solo-parent’s benefit.

Court adjourned early for lunch, and I did not attend for the afternoon session.

I will miss the next two Monday sittings, as I have some training sessions to attend.

The photo is the main entrance of the Christchurch District and High Court building’s main entrance in Durham Street North, in  central Christchurch (what’s left of it).

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