David Jerrold Theobald will have to pay for less than a third of the $41,500 damage he caused in his ram-raid protest at the Christchurch offices of the Inland Revenue Department.
The 48-year-old remained disarmingly frank to the end, when he was sentenced by Judge Jane McMeeken in the Christchurch District Court today.
When she began sentencing him for driving his car through two sets of glass doors at the department’s offices, he corrected her, explaining that it was actually three sets.
“Don’t interrupt me,” said the judge.
She ordered him to do 300 hours of community work and imposed reparation totalling $13,000 to the owners of the building and the department. She also disqualified him from driving for nine months.
Theobald, who has now lost his job after working for the department for 25 years, had pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving and intentional damage.
He is now a sickness beneficiary but hoped to get more work. His ram-raid in his car at 6.30am on a Saturday was a protest about his ongoing employment dispute with the department.
He will struggle to pay the reparations, even though he is single, has no children, and has been working for 25 years, because he has only about $1000 in assets.
He lives in a rental property and has no car.
“What have you spent your money on?” the judge wanted to know.
Theobald explained that he had been generous to people.
Defence counsel Simon Clay explained that there was a medical background to the case. Theobald’s actions had been a protest gesture. He had never been in trouble with the law, but had difficulties with his employer. He had checked to ensure there would be no-one in the offices when he made his protest.
Judge McMeeken said Theobald had believed for some reason that what had been happening gave him the right to damage property, but the building did not just belong to the department.
“You need to understand that it is one thing to protest, but it is quite another thing to deliberately, and intentionally, and wantonly destroy property especially when the property is not directly related to the organisation you had a gripe with.”
Ordering the reparation payment, she said: “The possibility of you making payment in full seems to me to be extremely remote, but you must realise there are consequences from your actions. You are going to have to budget wisely.”