Bas beats drink-drive rap


A top Queenstown realtor has beaten a drink-drive charge.

Bas Smith’s lawyers put forward a dozen overlapping reasons why his blood test reading should be discarded.

A judge has now determined three of the reasons stack up as valid defences.

Bernadette Farnan found Smith was unlawfully detained by police, not read his rights and the taking of his blood was, as a result, also a breach of his rights.

The co-owner of Ray White Queenstown and multi-sport athlete, 43, crashed his Audi on the way home from a party in April last year.

He legally left the scene, on Lower Shotover Road.

But police later found the car, with air bags deployed and blood present, and went round to his house at 2am to check on his welfare.

They woke him up and drove him to Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital.

A blood sample was taken, with a reading of 160mg. That’s double the criminal limit.

Expert drink-drive lawyer Alistair Haskett represented Smith at his judge-alone trial late last year.

He challenged the validity of the blood test, the legality of the police entering Smith’s home and other matters.

Farnan, in a written reserved judgment, says having “considered the plethora of defence defences” the case is not proven by police.

She says Smith was unlawfully detained at the hospital.

“The police should have given the defendant his rights at the hospital.

“There was ample opportunity to do so, and further, given Constable [Feleki] Uhrle provided Mr Smith with his rights immediately after the blood sample was taken, he was clearly alive to the issue.”

There was a 30-minute wait while Smith was treated for what turned out to be only minor injuries.

The blood test result was, therefore, excluded and the charge dismissed.

Farnan found no fault with the police entering Smith’s home, as they appeared to have been given indirect permission by his wife.

There were also no issues over blood sample testing and transport.

Farnan did, however, find a charge of careless driving proven. He’ll be sentenced on that charge on August 23.