Burglars put themselves in frame

Last updated 12:25 17/01/2012
River Queen
Target for vandals: The River Queen has been an on-going target of vandals.

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An Irishman and a Frenchman went into a bar, but the result was no laughing matter.

David Farrell, 26, of Ireland, and Nicholas Moinet, 24, of France, were among a group of travelling vineyard workers who broke into the river boat on the Opawa River, Blenheim, drank alcohol and took photos of each other having a great time, and then left the camera behind.

In the Blenheim District Court yesterday, Judge Anthony Walsh fined the pair $300 each and ordered them to pay reparation of $240 to the boat's owner before January 20 and additional court costs.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single said the pair boarded the boat with others and took photographs of themselves on Friday, December 9.

They removed the rollers on the door before drinking three bottles of spirits and taking more than 40 bottles of beer, Single said.

"The offenders left the boat and continued drinking at a nearby campground, leaving the camera behind. Police later identified them."

The pair work on a vineyard and live at the Duncannon Motor Camp.

Moinet was the first to appear in court. Defence counsel Bryony Millar said he had apologised to the River Queen owner in person and was sorry about what he did.

Moinet was likely to travel around New Zealand for work, so community work was not a realistic option, Millar said.

Judge Walsh said the boat had been a target of vandalism for some time and although it was clear Moinet's judgment had been affected by alcohol, his behaviour was unacceptable.

When Farrell appeared in the dock, Millar asked the judge to treat him the same as Moinet.

After the court hearing, River Queen co-owner and operator Peter Makin said he had received apologies and offers of reparation from Farrell and Moinet. However, police told him he could not accept the offers as the pair had to go through the court system.

Makin was delighted to learn the men had been asked to pay for the damage they caused.

"I'm the victim here, not them. I shouldn't have to suffer for a crime I didn't commit."

Other incidents, including break-ins and vandalising of the boat, had resulted in the decision to relocate downstream, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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