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Roadworker drove stolen digger through town to steal ATM from Wainuiomata BP

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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 A charge of wilful damage has been withdrawn.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 ” 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.

This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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‘Whole lot of people’: Questions over Aussie link to 3.5 tonne Fiji meth bust

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Two local men are reportedly being questioned after a 3.5 tonne methamphetamine bust in Fiji, as police probe the origins and destination of the drugs.

The drugs were found in a small, unfinished home in a quiet community near the nation’s main international airport. It has been called one of the country’s biggest ever drug busts.

Police are also looking into claims the drugs were bound for Australia, with the home affairs minister saying “a whole lot of people” were involved.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) declined to comment if they had any involvement in the raid, or if they were in contact with their Fijian counterparts.

“This is a Fiji Police Force operation,” AFP said in reply to questions from RNZ Pacific.

Acting Fiji police commissioner Juki Fong Chew did not provide further details.

He told RNZ Pacific police were “in the initial stage of investigations”, saying questions about the origin and destination would be answered “as we proceed along”.

Juki Fong Chew

Juki Fong Chew Photo: Fiji Police

However, assistant commissioner for crime Mesake Waqa told local radio broadcaster fijivillage.com police were looking at “information received that the large drug consignment was destined for Australia”.

He added police were “not ruling out the allegation that some police and customs officers may be involved in the drug operation”.

Waka on Tuesday said an investigation was also looking into whether prominent figures and some people linked to pharmaceutical companies were connected to the shipment.

The drugs, in nearly 800 medium size-containers and wrapped in brown tape, were found at “an incomplete corrugated iron home in a quiet neighbourhood in Voivoi, Legalega in Nadi”, The Fiji Times reported.

A community elder and retired school teacher, Abhiram, told the newspaper: “This is a peaceful, crime-free neighbourhood, nothing of this sort happens here.”

Pio Tikoduadua

Pio Tikoduadua Photo: Facebook / Fiji Government

‘Network’ of people involved

Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua has said strengthening Fiji’s border security was now a top priority.

“How do you stay ahead so that you don’t get surprised?” Tikoduadua said.

“It’s normal that things pass through, but why does three tonnes pass through? That is big. How did it ever get to Nadi?” he said to local journalists.

“There’s a whole lot of people that are handling that, and that’s the extent of this network.”

VIA RNZ

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One dead in workplace incident in Whangārei

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A person has died after a workplace incident on Abbey Caves Road, in Whangārei, this afternoon.

Police were called to the scene around 12.50pm, a spokesperson said.

WorkSafe and the Serious Crash Unit have been advised.

The death will be referred to the Coroner.

VIA RNZ

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Demand for water storage tanks in Wellington region soars amid warning of potential shortages

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Water storage tanks are in hot demand in Wellington, and the council says deliveries should soon ramp up to meet the need.

Wellingtonians were warned they should have emergency water stored at their homes in the case of a shortage during a sizzling summer. The region has been urged to prepare for the possibility of an acute water shortage.

A queue of people waited hours in the hot sun to purchase discounted 200 litre water tanks at the southern landfill’s Tip Shop on Tuesday.

There were 70 tanks available in the latest delivery, and everyone who queued walked away happy, council spokesperson Richard MacLean said.

“But we are now obviously subject to the ability of the manufacturer to build these tanks, or produce these tanks as quickly as possible.

“We’re expecting a delivery each week, and hopefully if the manufacturer can scale up, then that will become more frequent.”

People waited hours in the hot sun to purchase discounted 200-litre water tanks at the southern landfill's Tip Shop on Tuesday in Wellington.

Sales of water storage tanks have jumped in the Wellington region after Wellingtonians were warned to have water stored at their homes in case of a shortage this summer. Photo: Supplied / Wellington City Council

Council would let people know when more were available, he said.

The tanks were significantly cheaper than usual: the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office partnered with manufacturer The Tank Guy to offer them for $115, down from $265.

They were also available at council facilities in Lower Hutt, Porirua, South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton. Water tanks are temporarily out of stock at Kāpiti and Upper Hutt councils.

It was promising that people seemed to understand how important it was to store water, MacLean said.

“We’re very pleased that people are showing interest and taking this situation seriously.”

But it was not just important during summer, he said.

At-home water storage was also vital in case of natural disasters like earthquakes, when water supplies could be compromised.

Meanwhile, water tank sales in Upper Hutt have increased by more than a 1000 percent compared to two summers ago.

Upper Hutt City Council said it had sold 456 water tanks in the past three months – only 35 were sold during the same period in 2022.

The council said it had currently sold out of the tanks, and new stock would not arrive for a couple of weeks.

VIA RNZ

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