July 25, 2000
Rings Worker Charged With
Theft of Props
Blu James McLennan, 46, unemployed, of Wanaka, admitted charges of theft as a servant of $213,693.73 worth of costumes and props from film sets, and a $50 wine barrel, the property of production company Three Foot Six Ltd.
He was sentenced to 200 hours' community service for stealing the costumes and film-set props and a concurrent sentence of 50 hours' community service on the charge of theft of the wine barrel.
Counsel Kieran Tohill said the defendant was obsessed with Lord of the Rings and intended using the clothing and props to set up a shrine, and to show he had worked on the film.
The defendant's obsession extended to tattoos of Lord of the Rings on his body, Mr Tohill said.
McLennan was a diabetic who had worked 14 to 18 hours a day, six days a week, for the company and at times had not been taking his insulin, he said.
Prosecutor Sergeant Tom Scouller said the offences occurred between February and June this year.
The defendant and his wife were working on the set, where the defendant had been employed as an extra. When the filming of his part was delayed, he was offered a job in the security division.
The stolen articles, in 64 packages, had been sent to the address of the defendant's parents-in-law and later located by police, Mr Scouller said. All the property had been recovered.
Mr Tohill said some of the items belonged to the defendant, others had been rummaged from skips on production sites.
He suggested the value of the items had been inflated and were just a "stab in the dark", especially when some had been discarded. Among the items were model soldiers and leather gloves, swords and scabbards.
"One would doubt the usefulness of rabbits' ears and Orc false teeth," Judge David Saunders said.
But it was a serious offence to steal from an employer and generally the consequences could be imprisonment or periodic detention, he said.
McLennan had been charged under section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act, which required the court to impose community-based sentences, unless there were special circumstances relating to the offences, the judge said.
The case had been transferred from Upper Hutt. - NZPA