Backpacker in legal trouble coughs up $4k to go home

THE under-fire French hitchhiker who admitted damaging a road sign and stealing a $1000 sleeping bag has today coughed up $4000 so he could pay for his wrongs and leave New Zealand.

Cedric Claude Rene Rault-Verpre, 27, had appeared at Christchurch District Court earlier today.

At his appearance, he admitted shoplifting a sleeping bag, worth $1000, from Kathmandu's Broadway, Newmarket store on September 9.

But in relation to the charge that he wilfully damaging road signs at Punakaiki after becoming frustrated at being unable to hitch a lift, he disputed causing $3000 worth of damage.

Duty lawyer Andrew McKenzie said that Rault-Verpre admitted throwing one stone at a road sign. He disputed causing the damage alleged, and what some of the witnesses had told police.

During his appearance, he twice clicked his fingers at his lawyer to get his attention, as he leaned casually in the dock.

Judge Brian Callaghan had remanded him on bail until October 4 for a disputed facts hearing at Christchurch District Court.

But after being stood down, and a meeting with his lawyer, he decided to just cough up the money so that the Frenchman, In NZ on a one-year working holiday visa, could leave.

His case was recalled shortly after, where lawyer Andrew McKenzie said he had paid the total amount of $4000 reparation in full, although "somewhat under protest".

Rault-Verpre had "suffered considerable humiliation" given the publicity he had been subjected to, his lawyer said.

He had been "stopped in the street and abused" and been "very much denounced for this conduct".

Judge Brian Callaghan noted that the reparation had been received and said he didn't see the need for any further penalty. The Frenchman was convicted and otherwise discharged.

The money was donated to Rault-Verpre from an "external person" from overseas, the court heard.

Rault-Verpre was given his passport back and was free to go.

He refused to say anything as he left court today with his lawyer.

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