A Dunedin forestry worker has been convicted of breaking the August lockdown after jet-boating near Wanaka with a group of pals.
Martin Karl Nolan (30) admitted not respecting the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act by meeting in Makarora when New Zealand was on alert level 4 on August 20.
Yesterday in Queenstown District Court before Judge Russell Walker, Prosecution Sergeant Ian Collin said police were conducting a Level 4 Covid patrol on State Highway 6 near Wanaka on August 20 and observed two jet-boats on the Makarora river at 9:55 a.m.
Police proceeded to the boat launch where they saw two parked vehicles with boat trailers attached.
A local resident was also present, worried people were jet-boating down the river.
Sgt Collin said police then observed two jet boats crossing Lake Wanaka to the boat launch – one had three people on board, the other had four.
When the police spoke to them, the group members admitted to having traveled about 40 km to Lake Hawea to launch and travel, by boat, about 40 km to Makarora.
Sgt Collin said the area the group visited was considered remote – “historically search and rescue responses to the region have required significant multi-agency responses.”
If the group had encountered any difficulties, such a response would have led the emergency services to burst their own bubbles, he said.
Nolan admitted to violating the restrictions, but denied violating his bubble of life because the group had been residing together since the lockdown began.
Sgt Collin said the seven were originally charged, but three have since been offered diversion, provided they take a first aid course and donate $ 300 to a food bank in Wanaka.
Nolan’s attorney, Paige Noorland, said the accused already had a first aid certificate, had no previous convictions of a similar nature, but admitted that he should not have engaged in this activity at that time.
He complied when the police spoke to him and admitted the offense as soon as possible.
Judge Walker kept his comments brief.
“You will know that during the Covid Level 4 lockdown, there were people who gave up going to their loved ones’ funerals, and you couldn’t give up on getting your boat out. “
Nolan was sentenced to 60 hours of community service.