Jail sentence ‘only option’ for French woman

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The French woman who - until January - had never been in trouble with the law, was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment by Judge Kevin Phillips yesterday and is now also subject to a deportation notice.

Susie Suptille (30), cleaner, of France, was yesterday sentenced on five charges stemming from three separate incidents.

Judge Phillips said the only sentence available to him was one of imprisonment as “any other sentence is, in fact, hopeless”.

“If I [fine you and] take away your money it means you can’t go home; community work, you would go home without doing the sentence [and you] probably wouldn’t pay a fine.

“I consider your overall attitude is such that you treat the police and the court process with absolute contempt.

“All of it, in the end, is intolerable.”

Judge Phillips said Suptille was driving a work vehicle from Stanley St to Frankton Rd at 4.30am on January 1, when the resorts streets were full of New Year revellers.

Suptille was driving on the wrong side of the road when a taxi came around a bend, directly into her path. 

“That driver had to swerve but in the end your car hit the taxi.”

Suptille didn’t stop and continued driving until she reached her address.

There, she got into the passenger’s seat.

Judge Phillips said the taxi driver followed her and called police.

After a positive breath test Suptille was informed she had to accompany police to the Queenstown station and instead she refused and attempted to run to her house.

She was arrested and taken to the police station where an evidential breath alcohol test gave a reading of 765mcg.

“You said you were not driving; you were asleep in the passenger’s side; and in France you were used to driving on the other side of the road and, if I recall, it ws the fault of the law rather than your fault.”

Suptille again came to police attention on February 20 when she was arrested for disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence following an incident in Queenstown.

Judge Phillips said she was sitting with a group of friends - one of whom was abusing police.

Police went to talk to that person and Suptille became verbally abusive and, despite being warned, continued.

She then put herself between the police and her male associate and became “aggressive, grabbing hold of the constable”.

Suptille had been drinking, despite a condition of her bail being not to consume or possess alcohol.

She was arrested and began “kicking out and acting aggressively” towards police.

The final charge stemmed from a visit to Queenstown Police Station on March 15, seeking a photocopy of her passport to enable her to book tickets home.

While there Suptille was told she had failed to come to the door for a bail check.

At the station she was searched and 1gram of cananbis was found in her clothing.

She denied any knowledge of it, but yesterday admitted the offending.

Defence counsel Mike Newell said Suptille wanted to “express her remorse”.

“She’s never been in trouble before coming here - she clearly has some alcohol issues.

“She’s not someone who is an habitual criminal … she’s sorry for the trouble she’s caused while she’s been here.

“She did express to me … that she would have liked an opportunity to contribute something back to the New Zealand community in recompense for some of the harm that she has done while she’s been here.”

Judge Phillips said Suptille’s deportation notice was served on March 25 and she had 14 days in which to appeal it to the compliance manager and a further 28 days in which to appeal it on humanitarian grounds.

From an overall starting point of more than three months’ imprisonment, Judge Phillips applied reductions for mitigating factors, including her guilty pleas and “good character”.

For drink-driving she was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, with no leave to apply for a substitute sentence, and disqualified for six months.

For dangerous driving she was also sentenced to two months’ imprisonment and disqualified for six months and for refusing to accompany she was disqualified for three months.

On the disorderly charge she was sentenced to one month imprisonment and for possession of cannabis she was sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment.

All sentences were to be served concurrently.

Judge Phillips said Suptille had no ability to make a reparation payment to the taxi driver, who “hopefully” had insurance as Suptille’s level of intoxication would have voided her insurance.