Film star Chris Pine pleads guilty

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 11:47 17/03/2014
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ

Hollywood actor Chris Pine leaves the Ashburton District Court after pleading guilty to drink-drive charges.

Chris Pine
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A fan is taking a selfie as Hollywood actor Chris Pine leaves Ashburton District Court after pleading guilty to drink-driving,

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Hollywood actor Chris Pine has been disqualified from holding a licence after pleading guilty today to drink-driving.

Judge Joanna Maze refused to discharge him without conviction because she said she was "obliged to treat offenders alike".

In the Ashburton District Court this morning Judge Maze disqualified Pine from holding a licence for six months and ordered him to pay $93 in reparation. She noted the actor had already made a substantial donation to charity.

Pine's guilty plea was entered through his lawyer Marilyn Gilchrist.

The star stood silent in the dock during proceedings with his hands behind his back.

The police prosecutor said Pine was the driver of a Toyota vehicle that was was stopped in Methven, in Canterbury, at 3.27am on March 1.

A roadside breath test was positive and a subsequent blood test also found him over the limit at 113 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80.

Pine had been at a party at The Blue Pub in Methven to celebrate the end of filming of the movie Z for Zachariah.

Pine admitted he had drunk four vodkas, the prosecutor said.

Gilchrist applied for Pine to be discharged without conviction, saying a conviction would be "devastating" and out of proportion to the offence.

Pine had not previously appeared before the court.

"He accepts he made the wrong decision to drive that night," Gilchrist said.

"He was not stopped because of any error in his driving.

"He had a short 2-kilometre journey through the village of Methven . . . after a long week of filming."

Gilchrist said Pine was low on food and in need of sleep that night.

Pine had suffered emotionally and professionally because of "worldwide" coverage of his charge and had placed his acting contracts in jeopardy, she said. A conviction could potentially affect his ability to travel to Canada.

Judge Maze said she accepted Pine was "entirely remorseful" and that the incident was out of character.

She noted the actor had paid a "considerable" donation to a charity, that was about four times the normal fine handed down for a drink-driving conviction.

There were no aggravating factors and he had a previous good record.

Judge Maze said she also took into account the "excessive" media coverage around the case.

Pine hugged his lawyer before leaving court saying he would call her later, then was met by a crowd of screaming fans outside.

Pine, who was well-groomed and relaxed, smiled and signed autographs on the court steps before being whisked into a waiting 4WD.

He spoke only to ask people to be "cool" and stop pushing.

Harriet Lane, 16, was thrilled when Pine signed her Star Trek DVD and said afterwards she was still shaking.

She planned to frame the DVD and buy another copy to watch.

"He was so nice," she said.

"We thought he was just going to walk out like he did going in. I'm very happy."

His drink-driving conviction would not stop her watching his movies: "I think now he's learnt his lesson. Everyone makes mistakes," Lane said.

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COURT 'NOT A FILM STUDIO'

Earlier, Judge Maze had refused media applications to photograph Pine in court, ruling it was not in the public interest.

The court was "not a film studio", she said.

"There is really nothing unusual in this case. All applications are declined."

She said the heightened media interest was an "intrusion" on the small court.

Gilchrist said Pine would have applied for name suppression had the charge not been "leaked".

She said allowing photographs would "sensationalise one defendant with a straightforward charge".

"The media has already done considerable damage to Mr Pine," Gilchrist said.

Before his court appearance, two teenage fans said their view of Pine was unchanged.

Ashburton College pupils Jessica King, 12, and Charlotte Muir, 13, were hoping for autographs and photos with the star.

His drink-driving charge had not tainted their view of Pine.

"He seems pretty nice," Charlotte said.

The pair had a teacher-only day today so were not skipping school: "It's fate," Charlotte said.

Pine was in New Zealand filming Z for Zachariah alongside Australian-born star of The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, star of Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave.

The Z for Zachariah film's cast and crew were in Methven to shoot scenes at Washpen Falls, near Windwhistle.

About 80 actors and crew were then at the wrap party, which finished about 3am on March 1.

- The Press

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