Man sentenced for tagging Aussie jet

By Edward Gay

Charles Wilson Bullen. Photo / Facebook
Charles Wilson Bullen. Photo / Facebook

The man who tagged a swastika and lewd pictures of body parts on a visiting Australian Air Force plane before spitting on it has brought "considerable shame" on the defence force and the wider community, a court has been told.

Charles Wilson Bullen was sentenced to community work and supervision when he appeared at the Waitakere District Court today (Thur) after pleading guilty to two charges of intentional damage.

Judge Claire Ryan also ordered him to pay $4000 in reparation and said the offending has caused "considerable shame" to the Air Force and the community.

Bullen was also sentenced for breaking potplants and destroying an outdoor area at an Indian Restaurant in Hobsonville.

He was caught after a droplet of his spit, found by police at the Whenuapai Airbase in west Auckland, matched a DNA sample from the 35-year-old professional painter, linking him to the scene.

The court heard how the Royal Australian Air Force C17 Globemaster was tagged in September 2008.

Photos of the graffiti which were placed before the court showed swastikas and a crude drawing of a penis. There was also the message "Go Kiwi" and "Aussie Bitches".

The multi-million dollar aircraft had to be removed from service while $1800 of repairs were carried out.

Crown prosecutor Evan McCaughan said as well as the cost of the clean-up, the New Zealand Air Force spent approximately $60,000 on employing additional security and identifying how Bullen broke in.

Judge Ryan said Bullen also damaged potplants and other items in an outdoor seating area at a Hobsonville Indian restaurant. He had cut himself on some plastic sheeting, which also identified him as a suspect to police.

Bullen's lawyer John Munro said his client had changed since 2008, when he was spending time with a cousin and drinking heavily five nights a week.

But Judge Ryan said there had been offending in the last four years, including an assault on Christmas Day last year, and it was likely that was also "fuelled by alcohol". Bullen was also facing two drink driving charges and a charge of driving while suspended.

Mr Munro agreed, and said Bullen had enrolled himself in an alcohol programme.

"The nature of the offending, in my respectful submission, was drunken loutish behaviour that has gotten out of hand."

He said Bullen had also voluntarily approached the local council and spent 135 hours painting over graffiti.

Mr Munro said that had not been easy for Bullen, who also had his painting business and an 18-month-old child to look after.

He said Bullen's offending did not target "a group of people".

But Judge Ryan said Bullen had deliberately targeted an Australian plane and attacked an Indian restaurant.

She told Bullen that he had problems with alcohol, and said his enrolment in the alcohol programme was "last minute".

The judge said as well as the financial cost, there had been a cost to "New Zealand pride".

She ordered Bullen to undergo alcohol counselling, complete 87 hours of community work, and pay the airforce and the Indian restaurant $2000 each in reparations.

Outside court, Bullen declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Defence Force said the Air Force did not want to talk about the case.

- APNZ

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