A hitchhiker threw rocks at vehicles that did not stop for him - including a van containing eight schoolchildren - then jumped in the back of a police car he thought had stopped to give him a ride.
Christopher Hansen, 29, of Mangawhai, was found guilty on three charges of wilful damage after a defended hearing in the Whangarei District Court this week and was sentenced to community work.
Constable Jordan White of Waipu arrested Hansen at 6.35am on August 27, 2014, on the northern side of the Brynderwyn Hills after seven south-bound motorists reported rocks had been thrown at vehicles. Five police witnesses gave evidence in court while Hansen, who was self-represented, elected to neither call nor give evidence. Judge Keith de Ridder found him guilty and ordered him to perform 200 hours' community work and to pay reparations of $463 for a Rent-a-Dent vehicle and $877 for a Mitre 10 van.
None of the motorists whose vehicles were pelted with rocks could clearly identify Hansen but the judge convicted him on the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that matched the witnesses' evidence.
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Jade Morgan was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her boyfriend when he was forced to swerve on to the other side of the road after a person ran on to the road on the Brynderwyns before rocks were thrown. They stopped at Hampton Downs and a check revealed minor chips on the windscreen.
Murray Mortimer was a passenger in a van that was taking a group of eight school children south when a rock was thrown at the windscreen.
Daniel Finchan, a newspaper delivery man, said a young man had a fistful of rocks that he hurled at the windscreen of his van after he indicated he would not pick up the hitchhiker. He said luckily no stones hit him directly as the glass on his side of the van was reinforced. The windscreen had to be replaced, he said.
Mr Finchan described the hitchhiker as unkempt, looked like he had come out of the bush and his eyes looked "crazy".
Hansen said he left a party because of a dispute and questioned how Mr Finchan could have had a clear view of him. Mr Finchan said the lights of the van were on high beam and he was less than 10 metres away.
William Heremaia, a driver for Halls Transport, said when the hitchhiker realised he would not pick him up, the person threw something at the truck but there was no visible damage.
Mr White said he saw Hansen about 1km up the Brynderwyn Hills and, as he stopped, the hitchhiker opened the back door, got in and said thanks for giving him a ride. Hansen was asked to get out before he was arrested and brought to the Whangarei Police Station.