A former district judge has had a charge of causing intentional damage, by using a key to scratch a car parked in front of his North Shore apartment building last year, dismissed.

Police alleged Michael Lance, 73, used a key to put 20 scratches in a Volkswagen Golf car owned by company director Richard Cummins.

Lance's lawyer, John Haigh QC, had told Judge Kevin Phillips in the North Shore District Court the charge was "completely denied".

Police alleged Mr Lance,73, used the key to intentionally damage the Volkswagen Golf as it blocked the entrance to his $1 million Browns Bay apartment a year ago.

Mr Cummins said $4000 worth of damage was done and he had to pay the $400 insurance excess.

Today Judge Phillips said the evidence of the police's main witness was inconsistent and changed considerably during the two-day hearing.

Judge Phillips found David Burns was not sitting where he claimed to have been sitting and would have to have looked over his shoulder to see Mr Lance at the car instead of having a clear view.

"It was not the type of evidence that I could find Mr Lance guilty of this charge on."

However, he also said "an honestly mistaken witness can give convincing evidence".

As he left the court Mr Lance told NZPA: "I feel very relieved and am grateful for my counsel."

Outside court Mr Haigh said the police needed to carefully examine the legal advice they had been given before they decided to take the matter to the court.

"It is of great relief after a year almost to the day that this cloud hanging over him, unjustifiably in my view, has been removed.

"That's the good news. The bad news is that it has taken a year to do and has caused much grief to Mr Lance."

Mr Haigh said the matter should never have reached court but that would be reviewed when he sought a court order for costs.

The police refused to comment.

Had Mr Lance been convicted he could have faced a sentence of up to three months in prison or a fine of up to $2000. He left the court in a Volkswagen car similar to the car he was accused of damaging.

Yesterday, at the defended hearing in the North Shore District Court, Constable Lyndon Large said a diner from a nearby restaurant, David Burn, told him he watched Lance "key" the car.

But when Mr Large told Lance that was a stupid and immature thing to do, the judge denied damaging the car.

"He said, 'I didn't do that.' He said, 'I'm a judge. I wouldn't do that and my integrity would outdo that man's."

Lance's lawyer, John Haigh, QC, said his client "completely denied" Mr Burn's version of events, but agreed he had run his hand over the scratches.

Mr Large, when asked, said he had not taken the key away for examination, and told Mr Haigh he had "decided [he] believed" Mr Burn's account.

Mr Burn told the court Mr Large was speaking with a tow-truck driver when he saw Lance scratch the car with his keys.

Tow-truck driver Brendon Price told the court all of the scratches appeared to have come from the same key.

He said that while he was not a panelbeater, he considered himself knowledgeable in the field as his parents had owned a panel-beating business for 30 years.

Mr Price said he had heard Mr Burns tell police he had watched Lance scratch the car.

"He [Lance] stood back and said 'I wouldn't do that'," the tow-truck driver told the court. "He definitely stood back with an almost shocked look on his face."

Mr Price said he had noticed Lance hanging around at the back of the Volkswagen and found that unusual. "I do this quite a lot but I have never had anyone so inquisitive or hanging around the car."

Mr Price told police prosecutor Sergeant Mike Morgan that the scratches were fresh.

"I ran a finger along the scratch and when I lifted it, I could see dust on either side and where the scratch was there was no dust."

Lance is charged with wilful damage. Mr Morgan told Judge Kevin Phillips the police case related to 20 individual scratches.

Constable Paula Enoka, also called as a witness, said Lance told her the driver of the Volkswagen was probably an Asian woman.

"The gentleman [Lance] had said to me the driver was probably a woman and also that she was probably Asian," Ms Enoka told the court.

"I laughed his comments off. I didn't agree or disagree because I didn't know who the owner was."

A number of notes written by people whose access was blocked and infringement notices that had been placed under the car's windscreen were presented as evidence in court.

- NZPA, Rachel Tiffen