A man who crashed his flatmate's work van staged a burglary to cover up what he had done.
A police investigation was launched after Joseph Taria Kata's flatmate came home to discover his van missing, the house a shambles, and Kata with injuries to his head and body.
Kata, 26, told the flatmate and police he had come home to the Feilding house they shared on October 31, in time to disturb four burglars.
He said he had been hit in the head with a bottle and kicked in the head and body.
In truth, Kata had been home alone that night and decided to take his flatmate's van without his knowledge or permission, and go to Sanson to visit a friend.
Kata, who also had no licence, stayed in Sanson for several hours before heading home, Judge David Cameron said in Whanganui District Court.
He was driving on Sandon Rd towards Feilding when he veered onto a grass verge, narrowly missing hitting nearby trees.
A branch caught the van, Judge Cameron said.
Kata was knocked unconscious in the crash and suffered injuries to his face and body. The vehicle "suffered extensive damage", he said.
When Kata woke up, he managed to walk home and get to bed.
"Sometime during the night he awoke and decided to attempt to concoct a story to cover up his actions."
Kata went into his flatmate's room and took items out of drawers, scattering them around the room to make it look like someone had broken in and rifled through the victim's property.
He also unplugged the TV and put it on the couch, to make it look as if burglars had been preparing to take it when he arrived home.
Kata then smashed a bottle outside the front of the house "to indicate where he was assaulted".
"Numerous hours were spent by frontline police staff on the investigation before the defendant admitted to fabricating the story in an attempt to cover up his actions," Judge Cameron said.
After admitting to making a false statement, careless driving, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, and driving while unlicensed, Kata failed to show up to a Restorative Justice conference with the victim.
Defence lawyer Stephen Ross said it could be argued the matter would never have reached the court had it not been for Kata crashing the van.
"It was an act that didn't start off as particularly criminal, that spiralled out of control," Mr Ross said.
According to a pre-sentence report, Kata was "remorseful" but Judge Cameron said his expression of remorse "doesn't sit very well with his non-attendance at the Restorative Justice meeting".
Kata has three previous convictions for driving while unlicensed.
Judge Cameron sentenced him to four months of community detention at a house in Marton, with a curfew of 5pm to 4am, and 120 hours of community work.
He also disqualified Kata from holding or obtaining a driver licence for six months, fined him $300, $130 court costs, and ordered him to pay reparation to the victim of $2300.