Iconic Devonport Shop Smashed By Drunk Driver

Posted by on Oct 29, 2010 | 18 Comments

A family cross Church Rd in front of the damaged shop

A family cross Church Rd in front of the damaged shop

In an extraordinary incident last night, a car driven by a “paralytic” naval rating smashed through a Devonport shop window, destroying over $20,000 of art and causing around another $20,000 damage to the shop itself.

Devonport’s Art By The Sea, located on the corner of Church St and King Edward Parade was hit about 3:30am this morning by a 1997 Bmw 316.

Eye witnesses said the car, which was travelling at high speed down King Edward Parade towards North Head, lost control on the corner near Church St, smashed through a stop sign and an iron pole supporting the awning outside Art By The Sea before crashing through the Church St-side windows of the shop. The iron pole was catapulted into the shop, leaving a large gash in the floor and destroying several valuable art works.

One of the undamaged artworks

One of the undamaged artworks

One of the art works destroyed was the sole-surviving piece from a gallery destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake, which had been shipped up to Devonport for safe-keeping.

The driver, who The Speculator has confirmed is a rating based at Devonport Naval Base, then reversed his badly damaged car out of the window before attempting to flee on his wheel rims. However, his registration plate had become detached in the shop, and he was quickly traced. Eye witnesses said he appeared “completely paralytic.”

Police initially used the considerable resources they had activated in Bayswater for the manhunt there to track the driver; however, these were stood down when the plate was discovered in the rubble.

Mike Geers, owner of Art By The Sea, was disappointed. “The Navy have got to do something about their drinking culture. These incidents have happened before.” Ironically, as The Speculator was standing outside the shop, two men in a  car in naval rating overalls drove with excessive speed around the corner and headed up Church St, tailgating the car in front of them. This certainly didn’t improve the mood of anyone at the scene.

Navy spokesperson Sarah Campbell stated: “The matter is currently in the hands of the police, who are talking to one of our ratings, and we are awaiting the outcome of their enquiry. We sent two military policeman to the shop this morning to see if they could provide any assistance to the owner. We are very disappointed by this incident; having recently run a successful Open Day at the base with the intention of building links with the community, [the community’s view of the Navy] now all comes down to one person’s actions.”


The Speculator asked Ms Campbell whether she thought the drinking culture at the Navy was to blame; however she believed the Navy  – like any large organisation – reflects the standards of the community at large. Given the events on North Head last weekend, in which police were called to disband a large group of civilian drunks, one could surmise she has a point.

The police investigation is continuing.


  1. john says:

    As a former of resident of 5 king edward prd I can confirm speeding cars is the norm, day or night. I could never figure out why the police did not set up speed enforcement on that road. Word would spread and eventually the speeders would slow it down…ust a thought

  2. GB says:

    Any latest updates re the gallery there??

    Thanks for the reminder GB; see update article published today! – Ed

  3. Bond says:

    I think we’d all agree that most drunks are pretty tiresome whether they work for the Navy or for the Stone Oven (though I am sure the Stone Oven staff are quite abstemious!). Large groups of drunks (of any age) are generally obnoxious, and clearly the worst place for a drunk is behind a wheel. I daresay quite a few of us would also agree that Kiwi kids could do with quite a lot more parental discipline. But working for the Navy is not the same as working for a local cafe, or for a drain laying company. The Navy brings a lot of young people together in a military environment which, by its very nature, valorises macho behaviour. Does this encourage excessive ‘prove yourself as a real bloke’ drinking? Of course it does. So – we could reasonably say that, having created this environment, the Navy does have some responsibility when such macho behaviour spills out into the local community. The Navy is not just another employer. As a military force, it has a particular responsibility to protect the community, not just from outside threats but also from the out-of-control behaviour of its own members. And when things to go wrong the Navy should step up and try to put them right.

  4. Phil says:

    I’d like to know why this the Navy’s fault? This young lad had not been drinking within the Naval Base but had been drinking further afield. The Art Gallery is moaning that the Navy has not apologised……why the heck should it. If the lad worked in the Stone Oven would we ask the Stone Oven management to apologise…of course we wouldn’t! Wake up Devonport and see whats around you…the other loutish behaviour caused by non-navy teenagers – Cheltenham Beach for example. The majority of this behaviour is caused by civilian and not military louts!

  5. Joe says:

    Its just not the Navy its NZ youths as a whole,as for it drinking being a problem in Services get a life they have good measures in place and support to help.Its NZ as a whole for being too soft and PC, many years ago this would have been stopped,by the seniors looking after the younger ones.but since peoples hands are tied because NZ are now PC, things like this happen, as a result you have people incorrectly pointing the finger at the Services, we never hear about the builders, drain layers, Officer workers doing the same, because it doesn’t sell news. Correct he/she has done wrong maybe they should get the sack, no ifs or buts, and the next person should and so on until the message gets through. Then people may think twice before they do something similar. but NZ is that PC and needs to give them a second chance and a third…….., too bad sack him or her, but it will never happen,because all the i’s need to be dotted and t’s crossed, too bad get harder and the message will get through to the younger ones in the services. If people are going to loose their job they may think twice before doing something stupid, if they do something stupid they need to stand up and take responsibility for their actions, and one has to think are they the right person for the services anyway,

    he or she is young not too much money would have been spent on them for training as yet, sack them and save the tax payers money spent on them so far, somebody worth while will take their place.

  6. waz says:

    i completely agree that they come off base and cause an up roar most nights, but thats about a dozen of them. what about the other 2000 that go home after work every day and look after our family and kids. you cant call this, and highlight, that its the navys fault. its the person. everyone is responsible for their own actions. there was nothing anywhere telling that kid to go out drinking, and put his car through the front window of a building, and there definatly was everything telling him not to. the blame is his, not the navys

  7. Bond says:

    Most employers don’t house their employees and provide a bar for them. The Navy is in loco parentis to a lot of young people, and should take responsibility accordingly. Of course it would be nice if other parents also accepted responsibility for their drunken offspring, but in this case the Navy does have a formal role, and could prevent its junior members from drinking in a Navy bar until 3.00 am. More importantly it could and should act to redress the harm to other people created by this pattern of behaviour. The regular recurrence of these kinds of problems is, to some extent, a direct result of the Navy’s location in a residential area.

  8. Fred says:

    Same old pathetic Spin/PR/from the Navy. They have a naval bar, its not subject to normal Licensing rules as Pubs/Restaurants etc, and they sell at reduced prices across the bar. Every weekend they release the inmates out into the community at around 10-11pm at night, and the havoc ensue’s . Mr Editor please request the pile of letters submitted to the Navy at a meeting of concerned residents after the young rating was killed on Queens Pde, in 2007. It was on the base, Mr Mike Cohen a known defender of the navy chaired the meeting, Les Paterson NS Police commander was there and requested they shut the bar. See how far you get, with a bloated ignorant Navy. Everything they do for the community is just smoke and mirrors, they dont really care.

  9. Philip says:

    We have had two serious accidents outside our house in the last 12 months from tamked up Navy personel racing back to their quarters uasing excessive speed and drunk. Both accidents ended with the cars on the footpaths. Luckliy no pedestrians.

    The Navy is over represents in speeding and accidents in Devonport.

    Can the Speculator collect from residents all the accidents involving navy personal over the last three years and plot on a Google map.

    Vauxhall Rd is a race track for Navy ratings in Subarus.

    Where are the MPs — having a drink maybe.

  10. Eug says:

    This is only highlighting what goes on all the time on the main streets of Devonport! I live on Vauxhall rd, and without fail, every day there will be an idiot that races down Vauxhall Rd at a rediculous speed! It’s only a matter of time that there is going to be a serious injury or fatality of an innocent person… While the idiot driver gets a slap on the wrist after they express “great remorse” for their actions!

  11. Stu says:

    If it had been a a non-navy person who crashed into the buidling would “people” be demanding action by that persons employer? No they wouldn’t. But because its identified that the person is in the Navy then thats cause enough to crucify that organisation. The drink culture is far wider than in the defence forces who HAVE atleast made efforts to confront it. You only have to see the up roar from “parents” and pupils over schoolball after partys demanding the right to drink alcohol. End of the day the DRIVER broke the law and will pay the price. Because they come under military law also then they will be done on that too.

  12. GB says:

    As I said before, this version more condensed, it’s not only the Navy that hoons around Devonport streets, try the richies in their BMWs and other who hoon it along Calliope Rd and other Devo streets, drunk or otherwise…Yes the Navy has a drinking culture problem, always has!..Quite simply: Don’t drink and drive or speed!

  13. Bond says:

    It seems to me that the Navy needs to do several things about this incident. It needs to do something serious about its tiresome and dangerous drinking culture, rather than whining that this is just what everyone else in the community does (as if that makes it OK); and it needs to make a genuine effort to put things right for the gallery and the artists. Senior Navy decision-makers should step up and assist the artists in replacing the smashed works or producing new ones, and they should do the right thing by the gallery too. Art by the Sea is a small and very hardworking family business, which – as well as being one of Devonport’s most cherished cultural centres – provides real support to artists all over New Zealand. The Navy says it is keen to build links with the community in Devonport: let’s see if they really mean it.

  14. GB says:

    WoW wee, the great kiwi drinking culture hits the news again eh, bloody idiots!..and it’s NOT jus Navy people who hoon around in their cars in Devonport, I have witnessed the greedy rich in their BMWs and the like, speeding down Queens Parade, Victoria Rd, Buchanan St, Calliope Rd and Church st, your a pack of dozoes!..Don’t drink and drive and to you people always in a hurry in your cars, slow down in and around our village eh!

  15. kathy says:

    Navy spokesperson Sarah Campbells comment that the crash at Art by the Sea shop in King ed parade by the drunk navy person is soley responsibile for *bad press* for navy . what a whitewash !!! I have rung the Navy many times along with other residents about loutish behaviour on Queens Parade at night – drinking/ leaving rubbish then driving off drunk.I wonder what the reprimands are for this behaviour ! what ever it is its not working – Come on Navy set some higher standards and lead the way!

  16. peter says:

    3 years ago a young female navy rating was killed on queens parade a passenger in a car with a drunk navy driver! there is often drinking along Queens Parade at night – noisey cars leaving bottles on road and grass and throwing them in the sea etc urintaing off the seawall ,bad language etc etc.
    then driving away drunk.
    we have called the police and navy office of the watch to sort them out but they keep on doing it.
    a hard line needs to be taken with these personnel – . next will be an innocent person or persons injured or killed by this appalling behaviour.a liquor ban needs to be instigated along queens parade.we along with other residents intend to lobby the new local Board and make our concerns strongly felt to the Navy so it must stop.

  17. graeme says:

    i work opposite art by the sea;quite frankly the speed of vehicles turning left into church st on king edward pde and those travelling along king edward pde is increasing all the time.the worst time of day is just after 4pm.around 2months ago i phoned the police about a street race in king edward pde;the cars concerned were travelling side by side along the street.this was around 730pm.

  18. Itsme says:

    Bright spark too… leaving his number plate behind…

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