A mayoral candidate has been released from prison after serving a sentence he evaded for years.
Quinton Murray Berrett was arrested six weeks ago for failing to carry out a community work sentence following his 2018 conviction by jury trial for threatening to destroy property, attempting to pervert the course of justice and blackmail.
Evidence during the trial showed he also described attacking Parliament with explosives.
Berrett has twice appealed against his 2018 convictions. Both appeals were dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
The 45-year-old was sentenced to 180 hours’ community work and two years’ intensive supervision but failed to report for community work in January 2020. In February 2020, the Corrections Department in Feilding filed a charge of failing to report to a probation officer.
Berrett was arrested on 1 August in Rangataua, near Ohakune, shortly after lodging his nomination for the Rangitīkei mayoralty.
He spent six weeks on remand in Whanganui Prison before his release today – the day before voting opens for the 2022 local body election.
At Marton District Court this morning, Berrett entered a guilty plea through counsel for breaching his community work sentence. He was sentenced to one month’s prison.
Berrett’s counsel told the judge that Berrett was not prepared to serve his community work sentence but would co-operate in intensive supervision.
The judge substituted the community work with one month’s prison, to be served concurrently with the earlier sentence. Berrett’s previous sentence of two years of intensive supervision was cancelled, and a period of two years’ intensive supervision on the same terms was reimposed.
The judge agreed that Berrett’s six weeks in custody at Kaitoke since 1 August was effectively time served and he was released.
Berrett is one of three candidates challenging three-term mayor Andy Watson for the Rangitīkei District mayoralty in next month’s local body election. The others are Marton painter-decorator David Christison and Marton physiotherapist Simon Loudon.
As Berrett’s mother Janet Berrett left the courthouse, she called out: “Now he’s going to become the mayor of Marton.”
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