A young man who deliberately crashed into a series of Taupo power poles, cutting the supply to 630 homes, was upset that his partner was moving overseas, a court has heard.
Farm hand Jade Rolfe, 21, of Hamilton, appeared in the Taupo District Court today for sentencing on a criminal nuisance charge, entering a guilty plea through his lawyer.
In the early hours of January 30 Rolfe deliberately drove into a street sign and at least four power poles in Rifle Range Rd, Taupo, cutting power to homes in the area.
The damage was also linked to the death of Taupo woman Fai Deane, 50, who was on a ventilator to help her breathe.
Judge Maree Mackenzie described Rolfe's actions as "completely bizarre behaviour".
She said while he was possibly trying to injure himself, the real issue was the potential to endanger other people's lives, particularly those who might rely medically on power, as well as the risk to public safety.
The judge said Rolfe borrowed his mother's car and deliberately drove into a street sign in Rifle Range Rd and then a power pole with such force that the crossbar broke off, leaving lines hanging. He then crossed the road and drove into another pole, causing superficial damage, then reversed and drove deliberately into a third pole, which caused lines to fall onto the road.
Witnesses saw him driving deliberately into another pole several times. That caused the lines to arc, cutting the power.
"The potential for significant harm was very clearly present," Judge Mackenzie told Rolfe.
"I regard this as serious offending because of firstly, the significant degree of damage to these power poles, it's not just one, and secondly the risk to the public safety of innocent members of the public."
She added that while the damage may not initially have been premeditated, it took on a quality of premeditation because he carried on with a deliberate course of conduct.
"It is hard to imagine a more risky or dangerous activity, quite frankly."
Rolfe was sentenced to 120 hours of community work and disqualified from driving for five months.
Unison Networks may seek reparation from Rolfe for the damage to the power poles, which ran into the thousands of dollars. Relationships manager Danny Gough said if a criminal act had resulted in damage to a power pole, once the matter had been proved in court the company would look to recover the costs of having to repair or replace any of its assets.