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Judge calls Canterbury signwriter’s fake vaccine protest ‘stupid’

Peter Solvander has admitted to making fake vaccine passes. Photo: George Heard

A writer who fabricated fake Covid-19 vaccine passes to protest what he believed to be an unfair warrant system was today sentenced to community detention.

Peter David Solvander, 61, who runs a graphic design business in Rangiora, north Canterbury, also had a temporary name removal on Thursday.

He previously pleaded guilty to a counterfeiting charge in Christchurch District Court, admitting to forging a total of 30 My Vaccine passes and supplying them to people across the country.

The summary of facts indicates that Solvander copied the My Vaccine Pass online and created a fake template on his desktop computer.

He believed unvaccinated people were “unfairly disadvantaged” by being unable to obtain legitimate My Vaccine passes.

Although the counterfeit passes only had generic QR codes, which were not unique to individuals and would not work if scanned, they could likely pass a quick visual check.

In January this year, Solvander printed and supplied counterfeit passes to a number of people in Canterbury and a few others in New Zealand, the summary says.

Police identified 30 counterfeit passes made by him.

On January 21, a reporter using a pseudonym phoned Solvander claiming to want a vaccine pass to attend a wedding.

He told the reporter that he was so disgusted with what the government was doing that he wanted to help people as much as he could.

They agreed to meet this afternoon.

Solvander typed the undercover journalist’s pseudonym and date of birth into a template while filling out passes for others.

He gave the fake pass to the reporter and accepted $40 which he said was koha.

At the time, he told the reporter that he made himself a pass and used it to visit a family member in prison.

Police raided the property in January. When questioned by officers, he declined to comment.

Today Judge Tom Gilbert acknowledged that Solvander was ‘not a bad man per se, he just did something stupid’, but stressed that it was important that any sentence ‘bite’.

The judge said he read a good pre-sentence report in which Solvander regrets his actions, which he says occurred at a time of personal stress.

Defense attorney Nathan Batts requested that Solvander be sentenced to community detention rather than the more restrictive house arrest so he can continue to operate his business and earn an income.

Judge Gilbert admitted that house arrest would be very detrimental to her business and could subjugate her.

“It’s not something I want to see,” he said.

He sentenced Solvander to five months of community detention which includes a daily noon to midnight curfew. He must also complete 100 hours of community service.

A North Canterbury doctor was filmed last December issuing fake vaccine exemptions to patients.

Dr Jonie Girouard, who runs a weight loss clinic in Kaiapoi, is an unvaccinated GP who was caught by Newshub issuing fake certificates and telling patients how to get away with not using them.

The Department of Health confirmed earlier that it had issued a $300 violation notice to Girouard after finding that she had breached the Covid-19 (Vaccination) Public Health Response Order 2021 by seeing patients in person without being vaccinated and without a valid exemption.

-By Kurt Bayer