Luke Randall drove a stolen digger through town to a petrol station where he attempted to steal an ATM machine but instead caused $170,000 in damages before running off.
Around 1.30am on May 16 last year, Randall, 35, drove to a K&D Contracting worksite on Queen St in Wainuiomata, a site owned by his father.
There, he removed temporary fencing, entered the yard and broke the lock to a Hitachi seven-tonne excavator.
After turning it on with an unknown tool, he drove the industrial machine across two lanes of traffic toward the BP service station forecourt on Wainuiomata Rd, before parking himself directly in front of the station’s ATM.
Randall used the “boom arm” of the excavator to smash windows and crush the roof of the service station before causing further damage in an attempt to get the ATM.
But about two minutes later, he jumped out of the digger and ran off.
Today, the roadworker appeared in the Wellington District Court where he faced sentencing on charges of unlawfully taking the excavator and burglary. A charge of wilful damage has been withdrawn.
Judge Bruce Davidson noted the $170,000 worth of damage he caused and described the series of events as “quite spectacular” and “dramatic”.
Crown prosecutor Rachel Buckman said the amount of reparation sought by the business was $170,844, but accepted “[a] couple thousand dollars could be realistic” for the newly employed man.
Buckman said a sentence of home detention was “in the realm” of an appropriate outcome for Randall.
“The level of damage done was extraordinary in this case and needs to be taken seriously with a punitive element,” she said.
Defence lawyer Lara Caris said there was a clear nexus between her client’s addiction issues and his offending.
She said steps towards rehabilitation and a new job in traffic management had set him on a better path.
Judge Davidson acknowledged that pre-sentence reports had shown his willingness to confront his substance issues.
He said a sentence of home detention would allow Randall’s counselling and employment to continue.
Randall was sentenced to 10 months of home detention and ordered to pay $3000 of the $170,844 in reparation.
“Although it is only a token of reparation sought, I have to approach the issue with realism and pragmatism,” Judge Davidson said.
Hazel Osborne is an Open Justice reporter for NZME and is based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington. She joined the Open Justice team at the beginning of 2022, previously working in Whakatāne as a court and crime reporter in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.