A Blenheim man has been sentenced to 40 hours community work for trying to steal a car from a hotel car park.
Luke Anaru McIsaac, 28, appeared in the Blenheim District Court yesterday where he denied the charge.
The court heard how police were called to the Grovetown Hotel, on State Highway 1 near Blenheim, after a report of two men breaking into a car about 12.30am on July 31 last year.
Constable Brett Burns, of Blenheim police, arrived and spotted two men crouching behind the open door of a white station wagon.
Both men ran and one escaped by climbing over a boundary fence.
The other was quickly caught and arrested on State Highway 1.
Mr Burns called for a police dog handler to track the man who jumped over the fence.
Senior Constable Richard van Asch, and his dog Havoc, arrived about 20 minutes later and followed the scent through a number of paddocks and residential properties.
They eventually crossed State Highway 1 and headed into a vineyard adjacent to Aberharts Rd.
Mr Burns set up a cordon at Aberharts Rd where he was approached by a resident who had spoken to a man walking through the vineyard beside his property.
Mr Burns told the man, rowing coach Mark James, to return home as police were tracking a suspect.
Mr James returned home but, while standing outside, encountered the defendant for a second time, where he claimed to have had an argument with his friend, and flatmate at the time, and another man.
They were on their way back from drinks in Picton and McIsaac was dropped off near Spring Creek as a result of their argument.
McIsaac said he tried hitchhiking before walking back to Blenheim.
He decided to turn off State Highway 1, worried that he might be hit by a passing car.
McIsaac told the court that he wanted to avoid the police because he didn't want to answer "a million questions" and was worried that the other men might have reported him for their earlier argument.
He offered to pay Mr James or work on his lawn for a lift home.
However, moments later McIsaac was found by Mr van Asch and subsequently arrested by Mr Burns.
The court heard how McIsaac was not wearing shoes and his clothes were covered in mud and his tracksuit pants were "shredded" in places, which he disputed.
His trousers had a small rip at the bottom and his top was dirty from before, he said.
He was not able to put his shoes on when he got out of the car at Spring Creek, he added.
Mr van Asch said the track taken by Havoc following the defendant was pristine with a continuous and unbroken scent.
Mr van Asch recast Havoc at the scene after the defendant had been arrested and placed in a patrol car to make sure they had the right person, he said.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single argued that McIsaac had been in Picton with his flatmate and another man.
Mr Single said the other man was from Nelson and dropped the pair off at Spring Creek.
McIsaac's flatmate had already been convicted of trying to steal the car, belonging to a French tourist.
But he would not identify his accomplice.
McIsaac's lawyer, Rennie Gould, said the best evidence would have been her client's clothing, which police had not kept.
They also should have also made enquiries at the Grovetown Hotel after the incident but did not, Ms Gould said.
She further argued that the police dog could have picked up the scent of McIsaac's shoes being worn by someone else.
Judge Tony Zohrab said the defendant's version of events was unreliable and defied common sense.
The evidence from Mr van Asch, on the other hand, was compelling, he said.
- The Marlborough Express