Film star Chris Pine pleads guilty

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 11:50 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
Getty Images Zoom
A fan is taking a selfie as Hollywood actor Chris Pine leaves Ashburton District Court after pleading guilty to drink-driving,
Harriet Lane
Joelle Dally
STAR STRUCK: Harriet Lane, 16, with her Chris Pine signed Star Trek DVD. "I'm still shaking."

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Celebrated Hollywood actor Chris Pine has pleaded guilty to drink-driving at Ashburton District Court today.

However, he was refused a discharge without conviction by Judge Joanna Maze who said she was "obliged to treat offenders alike".

Pine was disqualified from holding a licence for six months and ordered to pay $93 in reparation.

A driving disqualification given by a New Zealand court only applied within New Zealand, a Ministry of Transport spokeswoman said.

Pine's guilty plea was entered through his lawyer Marilyn Gilchrist in the Ashburton District Court this morning.

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

Police prosecutor said Pine was the driver of a Toyota vehicle when he 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 113mg/100ml. The legal limit is 80.

He had been at the Z for Zachariah wrap party at The Blue Pub in Methven.

Pine admitted he had drunk four vodkas, the police prosecutor told the court.

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 2km 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 Pine had paid a "considerable" donation to a charity, which 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 took into account the "excessive" media coverage.

He hugged his lawyer before leaving court saying he would call her later.

He 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."

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

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.

Lawyer Marilyn Gilchrist said 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 Trek star.

His drink-driving charge had not tainted their view of Pine. "He seems pretty nice," Charlotte said.

They 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 Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, star of 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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