Bong smoked during search

A former Blenheim man smoked a cannabis bong while police were searching the house he was in on another matter.

Kyle James Clarke, 20, of Heathcote Valley in Christchurch, admitted charges of consuming cannabis and shoplifting when he appeared in the Blenheim District Court yesterday. He also admitted a charge of driving without a driver's licence. He was sentenced to 60 hours' community work and disqualified from driving for two months.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single said Clarke was with two friends at a house in Grovetown about 7.50pm on January 10 when they decided to fill a cannabis bong and smoke it, while police were searching the house on another matter. The officers saw Clarke smoking the bong, he said.

About 10am on the same day Clarke had gone to The Warehouse in Blenheim where he took a pair of underpants worth $22 and left, paying for other items, but not the underpants, Mr Single said.

When security tried to stop him, he threw the underpants at them and ran away, but then turned himself in to police a few hours later, he said.

On February 20 he was stopped by an officer while riding a motorbike in Park St in Blenheim, having previously been told by police not to drive until he had a licence, Mr Single said. Clarke told the officer he did not realise the law applied to children's motorbikes, he said.

Defence lawyer Philip Watson said Clarke was hungover before the shoplifting and had panicked and wasn't thinking straight when the incident happened, but should be given credit for handing himself in.

Judge Tony Zohrab said Clarke had three previous convictions for driving while forbidden, which suggested a contempt for court orders and was why he decided to disqualify him.

Also appearing in court yesterday:

● A 34-year-old man appeared on a charge of assaulting a 6-year-old. He was granted interim name suppression and remanded to reappear on March 11.

● A nip of whisky before breakfast helped land Geoffrey William Watson, 60, a truck driver, of Riversdale in trouble for drink-driving.

Watson admitted driving with excess breath alcohol of 775 micrograms and was fined $700 and disqualified from driving for seven months.  Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single said when police stopped Watson in Sinclair St in Renwick on the morning of February 6 he told them he had a nip of whisky before heading out to MacDonald's for breakfast. Defence lawyer Laurie Murdoch said Watson was on holiday from his job as a truck driver and had a big night drinking the night before and had not realised how much alcohol would still be in his system. Watson did not feel he had a problem with alcohol and it was his first drink-driving offence.

Judge Zohrab told Watson in his experience it was unusual for people to start the day with whisky before breakfast.

● A Havelock man earned himself an extra driving suspension after being caught speeding while driving to court to face a drink-driving charge last month.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single told the Blenheim District Court police had suspended Timothy Guy Andrews' licence for excess demerit points on Christmas Day, when he was also stopped for drink-driving. When officers stopped Andrews again on January 28 for speeding on State Highway 6 near Havelock he told them he was on his way to court.

Andrews, 25, a chef, admitted a charge of driving while suspended, a third or subsequent offence, when he appeared in court yesterday and was disqualified from driving for a year and sentenced to 40 hours' community work.

Judge Tony Zohrab said Andrews had a history of ignoring court sentences.

● Hamish Peter Andrews, 46, of Mayfield admitted two charges of possession of cannabis, and two charges of shoplifting and was remanded in custody for sentencing on March 25 for sentencing.

Mr Single said in the first shoplifting incident Andrews took two bottles of port worth $218.98 from a Nelson liquor store on December 10.

He was recognised by a staff member when he went back to the store a few days later.

In the second incident on December 19 Andrews took a drill bit set from PlaceMakers in Levin.

He told police in January he had returned the set to the store, but the store said it had not received it, Mr Single said.

On January 11 police stopped Andrews, while he was driving on Main St in Blenheim and found six cannabis plants in the boot of his car, which he told them he had found by the river while eeling.

On February 23 officers were called to the motel Andrews was staying at after receiving a report of someone smoking cannabis and when they searched Andrews they found a cannabis cigarette with about one gram of cannabis.

Ms Murdoch said Andrews had mental health issues and maintained he had sent the drill-bit set back to PlaceMakers Levin. Judge Zohrab said Andrews had a long history of shoplifting and had been sent to prison and given supervision and intensive supervision to try to stop his offending.

● Astra Fleur Sunbeam, 34, of Redwoodtown and Sheridan Lee Tonkin, 45, of Rapaura denied a charge of assaulting a woman with a knife with intent to rob her and were remanded to reappear on March 6. Their co-accused Mark William Morris Gould, 54, of Rapaura was remanded till March 4 to allow more time to speak with his lawyer.

● Karl Stacey Aldridge, 30, a vineyard worker of Picton admitted theft of a car and two charges of failing to appear in court was sentenced to 90 hours' community work and ordered to pay $1300 reparation. Mr Single said in November 2011 Aldridge agreed with the victim that he could have the car and pay for it later, but then disappeared and when police found Aldridge and the car in Greymouth on December 5 it had damage to its brakes, clutch and bumper. Police took the car back to Blenheim where it was returned to the owner.

Defence lawyer John Holdaway said the theft was only technical as the car had been returned. When he was charged, Aldridge had agreed with police he would pay for the damage and the charge would be dropped. Aldridge had been working as a fisherman trying to raise the money to pay, which was why he had missed some court appearances.

However, Judge Zohrab said the case had been called at least eight times before him since January 2012 and each time there had been promises to pay or excuses. Aldridge had a history of stringing people along.

The Marlborough Express