High-profile local in dock

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A high-profile Queenstown businesswoman facing drink-driving charges from 2008 was acting “perfectly normal” before driving, according to a witness. 

The 53-year-old woman, who has interim name suppression, denies refusing to provide a blood sample, resisting arrest and refusing to accompany sergeant Kate Pirovano at 1am on August 10 two years ago. 

At the case’s third and final hearing in Queenstown District Court last Thursday, a male witness – a long-time acquaintance of the woman – gave evidence in her support. 

The man can’t be named and some details can’t be revealed because it could lead to identification of the woman.
The man poured her one vodka and tonic during the evening, he said. She was visiting to discuss arrangements following the death of a friend, Kiwi businessman and Rich Lister Peter Spencer. 

Nothing suggested the woman was drunk before she left in her car, the witness said. 

The woman, represented by veteran Auckland defence lawyer Barry Hart, was arrested at home and claims Pirovano “dragged me up the driveway like a crab” in handcuffs. 

The accused says she was denied the opportunity to call her lawyer and arrange a babysitter. 

In an earlier hearing, police reportedly said the woman tried to wash her mouth with soap. She maintains she went to wash away her tears. 

The hearing has been further adjourned to October when Judge Paul Kellar is expected to give his decision.