DON Eriapa Akariri-Buckley has been ordered to pay almost $25,000 in damages to the Emerald Golf Club after a weekend joy ride turned ugly on Saturday, May 26.
He appeared before the Emerald Magistrate's Court facing a range of driving-related charges stemming from the incident.
The court was told how he and a group of friends gained unauthorised access to the golf course and, with Akariri-Buckley driving, fishtailed and did donuts on the playing area.
His actions caused extensive damage to six greens and six fairways with a repair bill totalling $24,801, excluding labour costs.
Police investigations the following day led them to the suspect vehicle, which on closer inspection was identified as having the same tyre patterns as those left on the golf course.
Close cut grass and sand was also spotted on the vehicle and bolt cutters were seen on the floor of the vehicle.
When questioned by police at the time, Akariri-Buckley said he regularly went four-wheel driving and the grass was "old grass", but denied driving on the golf course.
Two others who admitted being in the vehicle with Akariri-Buckley tended statements to police that he was the driver at the time of the offence.
One passenger told police: "DJ put it back into first then drop the clutch."
Solicitor Anne Murray said while her New Zealand-raised client was the driver at the time, she said his actions were fuelled by the misguided influence of his peers.
"What starts off as a bit of a prank ends up having severe consequences and they just don't get it until they are finally brought before someone like you your Honour," Mrs Murray said.
"His words to me later were 'It was f****** stupid. I wasn't thinking. I could have said no, I just didn't'."
She recommended Magistrate Cameron Press take leniency on the first time offender with no traffic history.
"$24,000 is going to be a lot for him to pay," she said.
"He is at a very young age and is remorseful.
"He strikes me as someone who is deserving of that one free kick at goal because I don't think you will see him before the court again."
In sentencing Mgst Press said of concern was the intent in the man's actions, referring to the use of bolt cutters.
"You are remorseful, however I must have regard that you caused substantial damage. The course benefits the community as a whole," Mgst Press said.
"If you had come before the court with any prior convictions it's likely you would be going to jail."
Akariri-Buckley was found guilty of wilful damage, driving without due care and attention or driving without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle without registration plates, exceeding the peer passenger limit for a restricted licence holder and trespass.
He was fined a total of $1300 for all offences, disqualified from driving for three months and sentenced to 18 months' probation.
Mgst Press said a conviction was recorded on the wilful damage charge based on the "substantial nature" of the damage caused.
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