Sports ground vandal loses licence, cash, car

Thomas Liam Carruth has already paid $1644 for repairs after wrecking the sports fields at Burnside Park. Next Monday, he hands over his car as well.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tony Couch described his antics as “wanton vandalism” of several soccer fields and a cricket block, on the night of August 4.

“The damage was severe,” he said. “The grounds could not be used for several weeks until repairs could be completed. This impacted not only on the owner of the grounds but also on the many members of the public who would otherwise have played sports on them.”

Carruth, a 20-year-old steel worker from St Albans, was appearing for sentence after pleading guilty to charges of intentional damage of the grounds, driving with a sustained loss of traction, and driving with excess breath-alcohol.

Defence counsel Phil Shamy said Carruth had already paid money into an account at the courts for the damage he did, and he was assessed as suitable for community detention.

He said Carruth now accepted that alcohol had been a “ core problem” and he was taking steps to deal with the issue. He realised that the penalties would involve indefinite disqualification and the loss of his vehicle.

Judge Couch said Carruth was with two others at the park late on August 4, when it had been raining and the ground was soft. He drove his utility vehicle all over the grounds for 15 to 20 minutes, revving the engine and spinning the wheels. His driving caused deep gouges in the surface.

When police caught him, he had a level of 659mcg to a litre of breath. The legal limit is 250mcg.

The judge noted that Carruth had two previous alcohol-driving convictions but one was at the under-20 level.

He said that community detention could be allowed because of Carruth’s age and limited criminal history.

He imposed four months of community detention, with a nightly curfew, 100 hours of community work, and supervision for a year.

He disqualified Carruth indefinitely and said that a zero-alcohol licence would apply when he got his licence back. He made the order for him to pay $1644 for the damage, and to confiscate the vehicle which must be handed over to the authorities by 4pm on Monday.

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