A Nelson woman got one "hell of a fright" when she hopped into her car and found a drunken stranger sitting in the passenger's seat.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, sat in the Nelson District Court yesterday as the man was sentenced for a raft of charges, including theft, intentional damage, unlawful interference with a car, and being on a vessel without lawful excuse.
Outside court, she said she had been at a party near Port Nelson and called a sober driver to take her home in her own car.
At 11.30pm she walked to her parked car to meet the driver, but as she got the door open she was shocked to see a man already sitting in her passenger seat.
Thinking he was her ride home, she joked, "You're on the wrong side if you're my sober driver."
The stranger replied, "I'm too pissed to drive," then opened the door and scarpered off into the night.
All she could think was, "This is weird."
It turned out the man was Craig Phillip Bond, a 30-year-old fisherman from Nelson who had got drunk that night and, as he had done on previous occasions, committed a series of low-level dishonesty offences.
His victim said she called 111 immediately after Bond ran off.
"He gave me a hell of a fright."
Bond, who was also charged with breaching the conditions of an earlier intensive supervision sentence, had pleaded guilty to all charges through his defence lawyer, Luke Acland.
Mr Acland told the court that Bond accepted he was an alcoholic, and that most of his previous crimes had been committed while he was drunk.
"There is a clear whiff of alcohol across his offending," Mr Acland said.
"Once he starts he can't stop, and he loses control. But, he's adamant he wants to boot the alcohol out and move on."
Bond intended to change careers, as the pressure to have a drink after work was too strong within the fishing industry, Mr Acland said.
Judge Tony Zohrab said Bond had shown contempt for previous sentences imposed by the court, such as supervision and counselling, which were directed at helping him recover from his alcohol addiction.
He was arrested on a fairly regular basis, and had made regular appearances in court since 2002, the judge said.
But, allowing him a final chance, Judge Zohrab handed down a rehabilitative sentence, requiring Bond to undergo alcohol and drug dependency treatment, and counselling.
He said he would be sent to prison if he breached his sentence conditions again.
Bond was ordered to serve four months' home detention, do 120 hours of community work, and make reparation payments of $154 for a window he smashed, and for $17 worth of coins he took from a car.
Outside court, the Nelson car owner said Bond had apologised to her as he was led away from the dock.
She understood, through having worked at a bar and spending time at the port, the perils of drinking to excess, and alcohol dependency, she said.
She said he had a hard journey ahead, but wished Bond "all the best" on the road to recovery.
- © Fairfax NZ News