Car thieves might not commit their crimes if they did not have encouragement from joyriding friends, said a judge as a group appeared before the court for a southern escapade.
Five were arrested after the car was stopped at Pleasant Point in South Canterbury on Tuesday after a ride from Christchurch in a car unlawfully taken from a car yard in St Asaph Street.
They appeared in the Timaru court yesterday, and four pleaded guilty when they appeared on remand before Judge Alistair Garland in the Christchurch District Court today.
He told them: “It is people like you who jump into stolen vehicles who tend to encourage those who steal them. If you didn’t do it, they might not steal them, because there would be no mates who would go and have a good time with them.”
Police say the sports utility vehicle picked up people in the central city early on Tuesday and was driven to Dunedin. The police were alerted when the car allegedly drove off without paying from a Tekapo service station on the way back.
Police found the vehicle in Fairlie and began a pursuit about 6.30pm that day. It was eventually stopped at Pleasant Point where the occupants were arrested.
Defence counsel Claire Hislop said 20-year-old Ann Marie Jordan accepted the ride to go to Dunedin to see her grandmother, who was unwell. “She did manage to see her grandmother, but clearly she chose the wrong mode of transport to get there.”
Jordan was one of the passengers and admitted unlawfully getting into the car. Miss Hislop said Jordan had been living on the streets for two weeks after a falling out with her extended family.
Another passenger, Sean Evan Cairns, 17, also pleaded guilty. Defence counsel Trudi Aickin said he had accepted a ride on Latimer Square about midnight. He was homeless and living at the City Mission.
Judge Garland ordered both of them to come up for sentence if called upon over the next six months.
Jessie Heketua-Minahera Morgan, 18, who was homeless, pleaded guilty to unlawfully getting into the car. Judge Garland noted he had nine convictions on his history and had already been imprisoned. He sentenced him to 80 hours of community work.
Bradley John Edgeworth, 26, pleaded guilty to charges of theft, failing to stop for a police car using its lights and siren, and unlawfully getting into a car. The judge said he had a long history of offending, and not complying with community-based sentences. He remanded Edgeworth on bail, with a condition not to drive, for sentence on December 17. Edgeworth was driving the car when the group was caught.
A fifth person charged was to be dealt with later.