Drink driver vandal pleads guilty

WHEELIE MARKS: Hornby Rugby League Club president Brent Tomlinson looks over damage to the resurfaced Leslie Park last month. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

A drink driver has admitted tearing up Hornby’s Leslie Park in his car.

Graeme Thomas, 39, was convicted of operating a motor vehicle causing sustained loss of traction, failing to stop, causing wilful damage and driving with excess breath alcohol when he appeared in the district court last week.

He pleaded guilty to the charges and was remanded on bail until sentencing on November 14. His bail conditions require that he not drive or drink alcohol, but his curfew conditions were lifted at last week’s hearing.

He also qualified for an alcohol interlock system to be installed in his car – requiring a clear breath alcohol test before the engine could start – but he had no vehicle at the time of his appearance.

Leslie Park is the home ground of the ​Hornby Rugby League Club. President Brent Tomlinson said damage to the field was no longer visible at ground level and the club had played two games on it since completing some basic repairs.

“We’ve had a couple of kids games as well to try and soften the blow. It’s pretty gutting really.”

It was the second time vandalism to the field had prevented teams playing there within the space of two months.

“[The players have] missed a huge chunk of this season just because of the [vandalism],” Mr Tomlinson said.

Missing four weeks of games had also impacted the club’s bottom line, which they would struggle to make up in the short time remaining in the season.

“There’s no win out of this, it doesn’t help with your little guys, your senior players or the money you’ve lost.”

Mr Tomlinson said he was glad Thomas was not known to the club, as it would have hurt more if the damage was done by one of their own.

“Hornby’s a village and most of the village have played for the club or played league. He obviously doesn’t know what it means to the Hornby community. It’s massive.”

As of last week, Mr Tomlinson said the club had not heard from Thomas.

“I would have expected at least an apology, but nothing.

“It would be nice to hear from the guy, that he just had a moment, had a bit too much to drink. But I’m not going to hold my breath.” City council manager community parks Al Hardy said the city council would not seek to recover damages from Thomas. “Fortunately, the damage was of a superficial nature and [will] be remediated as part of our spring sports field renovations programme,” he said.

Moving On: Hornby Panthers Rugby League Club president Brent Tomlinson said his club has played a couple of games on the vandalised fields after making some basics ground repairs.