Damage bill for drink-driving store demolition

An 18-year-old faces an estimated $25,000 damage bill after crashing into the Tahunanui Store in Nelson while he was drink-driving.

Dante Jack Rolleston leaves from Nelson on Tuesday for three months at sea working on a fishing boat.

He is hoping to make enough money in that time to make a sizeable dent in the reparation order when he comes up for sentencing in the Christchurch District Court on July 4.

Rolleston, who has been living in Christchurch, will have to get his probation report started with an interview before he goes to sea, and then completed when he returns and details are available of how much he has earned in the three months on the fishing boat.

The exact damage bill will be known by then, too. At present, the police only have an estimate of $25,000 for a crash which took out a roof support, collapsed part of the store’s roof, and smashed a hole in the side of the building.

The incident happened at 12.30am on Boxing Day after Rolleston had been drinking. He was driving on Muritai Street, Tahunanui, after a shower of rain had made the road slippery.

When he braked to make a turn, the Subaru’s wheels locked and the skidded through the intersection and ploughed into the store.

After the crash, Rolleston picked up the car’s broken bodywork, threw it into the back seat, and drove off.

He was found soon after, with the car parked next to his tent site. A breath-test showed he had a level of 534mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath. The legal limit is 250mcg.

Rolleston told police had been travelling at 70km an hour in the residential area which has a 50km an hour limit and is packed with holidaymakers at that time of year. He said he had been unable to slow down in time, as he drove to a service station to buy a pie.

The court was told he already owes $6000 in fines.

He pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving and drink-driving.

Judge Saunders said the main factor at his sentencing would be the reparation he could pay.

He is not allowed to drive during the remand on bail for sentence, but that is not expected to present any problem since he will be at sea for almost all that time.

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