A 57-year-old man who says he felt “stonewalled and powerless” in his dealings with the Earthquake Commission has written out cheques totalling $14,394 for paintstripper damage to EQC cars.
Russell Taylor Carr wrote out two cheques in the Christchurch District Court where he was sentenced today – one to cover EQC losses, and another for its own insurer, Vero.
“I just feel railroaded everywhere,” he said to Judge Stephen O’Driscoll as the sentencing ended with a reparation order and 150 hours of community work.
Carr still denies the offending after being found guilty of intentional damage at a judge-alone trial, and he plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
He also told the hearing that he has made a claim with Vero to pay for the damage which he is having to pay for at present. He said Vero had accepted the claim “subject to my passing my medical conditions on to them”.
Defence counsel Nikita Mitskevitch said Carr was a retired contractor who was still asked out of retirement to do work because he was well regarded. He was a pillar of the community who had no previous convictions. He helped the “community fridge” in New Brighton with vegetables from his own garden.
Carr had felt stonewalled and powerless in his dealings with EQC. “His health had taken a turn for the worse mentally, and he was struggling physically as well. It does not pardon his offending a bit, but it does give it some context.”
Carr’s sentencing was delayed last month so that he could come up with a reparation offer. Judge O’Driscoll said at the time that he was not impressed with Carr’s attitude. Imprisonment had been “on the cards” at that stage, particularly if no reparation was paid.
The judge delayed the sentencing to today and then made Carr fill out the reparation cheques as he stood in the dock and hand them to his lawyer, who undertook to pay them to the court immediately.
He said that Carr had not been happy with his dealings with EQC and had a grievance.
“I understand from what I have been told that you have felt ignored and powerless over your involvement with EQC.”
That had caused Carr to become overwhelmed and frustrated but it did not justify his actions in committing a criminal act by damaging property.
The judge found in a reserved decision after the trial that Carr had driven his van along Barry Hogan Drive, Addington, on July 1, 2016, and sprayed a liquid in the direction of several EQC cars. The liquid was apparently paintstripper.
At the end of the sentencing, Judge O’Driscoll told him: “Get on with your life. Put this behind you, and hopefully these matters between you and EQC will be finalised in an amicable way.”