Wellington - The parents of a German tourist working in New Zealand have reportedly remortgaged their house to pay for what a judge described as "one expensive text message."
After being fired from his job at a milk powder factory near Blenheim on the South Island in October, Maximillian Christian Zucker wrote his boss a text message saying he "left a little present in the last production" of milk powder, the Marlborough Express reported Friday.
The 21-year-old wrote a second message 30 minutes later, stating that he hadn't tampered with the production line, but the company had already kicked off the contamination procedure as required by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The company was forced to dump the whole export shipment. It said that the total cost of a shipment, a day's work spent dumping the product and trying to catch up on lost time, was close to 190 000 New Zealand dollars (128 650 US dollars).
According to the report, the tourist's family in Germany remortgaged their home so he could contribute 40 000 dollars towards the company's 190 000-dollar losses, but Zucker spent half of this money on living costs while waiting in New Zealand for his sentencing.
"The severely aggravated offending ... strikes to the heart of one of New Zealand's most valued export products, and the heart of a reputation New Zealand works hard to maintain," the judge said, according to the newspaper.
He was convicted at the Blenheim District Court and ordered to pay a 19 000-dollar fine, the amount still remaining from after parents' contribution.