'Well intentioned' tyre slasher David Johns should not have gone to jail, says lawyer
Wellington's tyre slasher wants out of jail and has asked the High Court to look at giving him home detention.
David Francis Johns, 53, was jailed for 22 months in April after pleading guilty to a representative charge of intentional damage to numerous car tyres in the suburb of Miramar (near Wellington Airport) and possession of an offensive weapon - a sharpened screwdriver.
In a report that was given to the sentencing judge, Johns had talked about being proud of what he did.
"I had an effect when no-one else did," Johns told the psychologist charged with evaluating his state of mind for the court.
Now appealing that sentence at the High Court in Wellington, Johns' lawyer Kirby Draper said on Tuesday his annoyance at the parking congestion in the area was not the only reason, he was also worried about residents' safety.
She said it should have been given more weight by the judge who jailed Johns.
"It was more than pure vigilantism and annoyance."
Draper said she was not asking the court to condone what Johns had done but to look at the severity of the sentence.
She also told Justice Simon France that the sentencing judge appeared to have taken into account not only 101 named victims, but 75 more who were not named, which had led him to giving a higher sentence.
Draper said it had been agreed before sentencing that it would be done on the basis of the named victims only.
She said the judge also did not adequately take into account the psychological report which outlined Johns's difficulties like problems with emotional regulation.
She called Johns well intentioned.
Crown lawyer Adele Garrick said even if the judge only took into account 101 victims and nearly $20,000 in reparation, the jail term was not excessive.
Johns' actions were in response to parking pressures that have plagued Miramar. Residents there have long complained about airport users treating their suburban streets like a free car park.
Some have hit back by placing illegal fences and concrete blocks outside their homes to prevent people from parking there and walking to the airport.
The district court judge had 51 victim impact statements, and Johns had accepted responsibility for slashing tyres on 101 vehicles.
In January police had been running a plainclothes operation in Miramar when they saw Johns, who had come out of Miro St, where he had already slashed the tyres of two cars.
He turned into Broadway, then into Kauri St, where he targeted the tyres of more vehicles before police stopped him. They found a sharpened screwdriver in his pocket and another in his car.
Johns told police he went out mainly at night and was trying to target commercial and industrial vehicles, but knew he had damaged local residents' cars too.
He had been doing it for six months, and knew he was not the only one, he said.
Wellington City Council is next month to institute a 24-hour parking limits with fines given to overstayers or they could be towed. Residents are to get one free parking permit.
The judge has reserved his decision.