Businessman accuses police of dishonesty


A prominent Queenstown businessman and multisport athlete says he drank only two glasses of wine at a dinner party before crashing his car on the way home.

Sebastian Dudley Smith, 43, commonly known as Bas Smith, was giving evidence at a three-day judge-alone trial in the Queenstown District Court that ended on Thursday.

The co-owner of real estate company Ray White Queenstown is defending charges of drink-driving and careless driving on Lower Shotover Road on April 13 last year.

An evidential blood test at Lakes District Hospital nearly two hours after the crash gave a result of 160mg – more than three times the current legal limit.

Giving evidence, Smith says he crashed because of “a moment’s inattention” on a dangerous corner rather than intoxication or excessive speed.

His wife, Francesca King, was following closely behind in a taxi, which picked him up and took them home.

Smith says he felt “intimidated” when he was woken up at 2am to see two police officers in his bedroom.

After twice telling the officers he did not want to go to hospital for a check-up, he gave up protesting because he “didn’t really feel like I had a choice”.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Sergeant Ian Collin, he says the officers were “not being honest” when they testified they had not forced him to go to hospital.

Smith admitted he had originally planned to plead guilty to the charges and have the case transferred to Auckland.

But he changed his mind because an injustice had occurred and he was “prepared to take it on”.

Sergeant Collin says the defence had proposed three scenarios for why the blood test had returned a high alcohol reading: the defendant had underestimated how much he had drunk, the wrong blood had been tested by the ESR, or the defendant’s blood sample had been tampered with.

When asked if leaving the scene of a crash and not reporting it to the police indicated the first scenario was the most likely, Smith says: “I don’t know.”

Collin asked the defendant why he had sent a text message to an associate on the day of the crash that read: “Don’t say to anyone there’s been drinking, bro.”

Smith says Queenstown is a “tough town in terms of rumour and innuendo” and he was trying to minimise gossip about the incident.

Judge Bernadette Farnan reserved her decision until March 21, and outlined the issues she wanted the prosecution and defence to focus on in their final written submissions.

One was the evidence of an ESR analyst about the chain of custody of the defendant’s blood samples on the way to the ESR lab in Wellington, and “loose labels” on the sample bottles that had prevented a certificate of analysis being produced.

The second issue was whether the police officers should have read the defendant his rights earlier on the morning in question.

The final issue was the admissibility as evidence of text messages between the defendant and a previous legal counsel.

– Otago Daily Times