Te Mata Peak vandal sentenced

A Hastings man may be required to replant trees and native shrubs he destroyed with his four wheel drive.

Christy Bixley, 29, was sentenced at Hastings District Court yesterday to pay $420 in reparation and complete 160 hours' community work for his destructive spree at Te Mata Peak in the early hours of June 23.

He had driven his four wheel drive to the Redwood Forest car park, then used a large metal bar from his vehicle to smash the padlock to gain access to a dirt track not usually accessible to the public. He drove onto the track, running over 20 small native trees and snapping them off at the base before crashing down a bank where he was found by police.

Bixley's lawyer Susanne Lott said he wanted to express a "high level of remorse" for damaging the Te Mata Peak trees, which he considered a "beauty and a treasure" of Hawke's Bay, and it was his own suggestion to complete his community work for the Te Mata Peak Trust Board. She said he was angry at the time and it was unusual behaviour given his "depth of feeling" for the area.

Judge Richard Watson was willing to assign Bixley to community work with Te Mata Peak, provided the trust agreed and there was no trespass order brought against him.

Days after the incident, Friends of Te Mata Peak volunteer Mike Lusk told Hawke's Bay Today of the frustration caused by the damage.

Yesterday he said he was pleased the culprit was caught. "We're pleased that they were caught and I hope he is remorseful. A lot of people have said to me how disappointed and upset I must be - and I am - but I've got to stay positive."

Te Mata Peak Trust Board chairman Bruno Chambers could not be reached for comment yesterday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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