Drink-drive trend upsets judge


A judge has delivered a tongue-lashing on the dangers of drink-driving, after her courtroom was chocker with people who were blotto behind the wheel.

Twelve of 24 cases in Queenstown’s court in the first three hours of Monday were drink-drivers.

Another two involved driving offences.

Judge Bernadette Farnan declined a discharge without conviction bid by 20-year-old Brooke Leahy Spencer - who hoped to work in Canada - saying such applications were “all too common in our society”.

Spencer had a blood alcohol level of 194mg, equivalent to about 1000mcg of alcohol in the breath, while driving down Queenstown’s Williams Street on April 14.

But lawyer Liam Collins argued she’s a young woman of otherwise exceptional character, who committed “countless” hours to volunteering in New Zealand and overseas, including working as a surf lifeguard.

Farnan was having none of it, reminding Spencer that law-makers were so concerned about drink-driving they lowered the levels.

She says: “I have had that confirmed to me today by the large number of drink-drivers that I’ve had to deal with this morning before your matter.

“In your circumstances, I cannot be confident that if you are convicted the direct and indirect consequences would be out of all proportion.”

Because she had already paid reparation and voluntarily attended counselling, she was fined $250 on the drink-driving charge, ordered to pay $109.25 for medical expenses and $130 court costs and was disqualified for eight months.

For careless driving she was fined $150, court costs $130.

Another worringly high level - 950mcg - was blown by Queenstown receptionist Sheerin Adle-Ghadgar.

The 28-year-old’s car ploughed into a parked car at 2am on Monday, extensively damaging both vehicles.

She told cops an “electronic fault” caused her steering wheel to lock, but Farnan didn’t accept that.

She says the incident’s down to her “extremely high” breath alcohol level and questioned how she drove at all.

Adle-Ghadgar was fined $1000, court costs $130 and disqualified for seven months. She was remanded on a careless driving charge.

Meanwhile, another Queenstowner, Charlotte Ibrelisle, 22, was fined $600, and disqualified for six months after blowing 522mcg on Melbourne St on August 18.

She gave police a false name and date of birth and told them she was “less intoxicated” than any of her three passengers.

Other names in Monday’s drink-drive cast of shame are:

  • Pablo Andres Munoz Campos, 30, of Arrowtown, fined $550 for drink-driving (534mcg) at Hogans Gully Road on August 20. Disqualified six months, court costs $130.
  • Frenchman Ronan Jacques Perez, 26, fined $1100 for drink-driving (1077mcg) on Frankton Rd on July 16. Disqualified eight months, court costs $130.
  • Heavy truck and tanker driver Alexander Stanislavovich Skripov, 25, of Lower Shotover, convicted for drink-driving (124mg, blood) and careless driving at Max’s Way, in Shotover Country, on July 10. Fined $500, court costs $130, $109.25 medical expenses, disqualified six months.
  • Thibaud Renaud Jean Henry Prost, 28, of Queenstown, drink-driving, Turner St, 1090mcg, August 17, fined $1100, of which $600 was to be paid immediately and the balance within four weeks, $130 court costs, disqualified eight months.
  • Thomas Kahue Taitoko, 20, builder, of Albert Town, drink-driving, 683mcg, Helwick St, August 4, fined $700, court costs $130, disqualified seven months, Toyota Corolla confiscated subject to section 129 of the Land Transport Act.
  • Thomas Anthony Macaulay, 39, of Jack’s Point, drink-driving, 817mcg, Frankton Rd, August 7, fined $820, court costs $130, disqualified six months.
  • Daniel Allan Ashby, 28, of Cromwell, drink-driving, 539mg, Shotover St, third or subsequent, August 19, 150 hours’ community work to be converted to training if necessary, disqualified 15 months, six months’ supervision.
  • Christopher John Bingham, 36, of Hastings, drink-driving, 678mcg, Shotover St, August 7, fined $680, court costs $130, disqualified six months.
  • Richard Charles Butler, 28, teacher, of Sunshine Bay, drink-driving, 894mcg, Man St, August 11, fined $900, court costs $130, disqualified seven months.

Realtor fined

Top realtor Bas Smith, 44, has been fined $500 for careless driving in April 2014. After a trial this month, Farnan dismissed a drink-drive charge against him after finding he’d been unlawfully detained by cops and his rights had been breached.