Ex-cop sentenced for assault

By Corey Charlton -
Former policeman Stuart McLachlan. Photo/File
Former policeman Stuart McLachlan. Photo/File

A former policeman who stuffed a Lotto ticket into a shopkeeper's bra during an angry dispute has been convicted and ordered to pay $98 in reparation costs.

Stuart McLachlan, 68, was found guilty of assault late last month following a judge-alone hearing at the Hastings District Court on January 20, for the dispute over the payment of a Lotto ticket last year.

During sentencing at the Hastings District Court yesterday, he applied for a discharge without conviction, citing his life service to the community, the conviction's potential to affect future employment, and the problems he has dealt with in his life including health issues, his wife's death and the loss of his pension in attempted investments. It was opposed by police, and prosecutor Andy Horne noted Mr McLachlan's first character reference was at least 14 years' old and suggested his second might also have been.

The application was declined by Judge Bridget Mackintosh, who said anybody employing McLachlan had "the right to know what did occur on this particular occasion".

He was ordered to pay $98 in reparation towards the victim's medical costs but avoided harsher punishment after Judge Mackintosh took into account his age and clean criminal record.

At the end of the hearing he stood and said: "The matter will be appealed - you ought to be ashamed of yourself".

McLachlan was running as a Napier City Council candidate in the October 2013 local body elections when the assault allegation surfaced. Despite initially receiving name suppression, this was opposed by Hawke's Bay Today and not renewed at a following court appearance, allowing him to be named.

On March 9 last year, McLachlan went into a Havelock North Lotto shop and attempted to purchase a ticket when he was found to be $1.20 short.

He refused to give the ticket back, resulting in shopkeeper Gale Harman going around to the other side of the counter and attempting to stop him from leaving the store without paying for the ticket in full.

There was pushing back and forth as McLachlan attempted to move towards the supermarket where he said he was going to get the money he owed, when he took the Lotto ticket and shoved it down the front of the victim's shirt.

"When he was swearing at me spit was coming out of his mouth, I had to wipe my glasses off afterwards," she told the court.

"All I could think about was not falling on the ground because I didn't want him to put the boot in."

McLachlan had twice turned down diversion before the court hearing took place last month.

Yesterday Mrs Harman told Hawke's Bay Today she was happy with the outcome and that she could now get on with her life.

"The part where he was worried about not being employable - well, I don't think he is employable at 68, and people are entitled to know what sort of person he is if they're going to be employing him.

"It has been nearly 12 months. There have been lots of sleepless nights worried that I'm going to come across him in the street."

It was also revealed in court yesterday a charge of drink driving was expected to be laid against McLachlan for an incident on February 7 this year. While it had not yet been laid, police indicated there would be a summons within the next few days.

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