Judge slams Queenstown drink drivers

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A judge has lambasted holiday drink drivers after dealing with a raft of cases at Queenstown District Court’s first session of 2013.

Judge Kevin Phillips criticised what he labelled as their blatant disregard for New Zealand’s most basic road law.

Nine of the 12 defendants up before the judge this morning (Monday) were accused of driving after consuming too much alcohol.

One girl even admitted downing Jaegerbombs (made with a 70-proof German spirit) and tequila shots in the hours before driving.

Charlotte Ritchie, of Woodlands Close, Queenstown, gave a breath alcohol reading of 875 micrograms per litre of breath when stopped by police. The legal limit is 400mg.

Judge Phillips told her: “This is appalling behaviour quite simply.

“It is just good fortune that you are able to stand in the dock today and didn’t kill someone. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Conference organiser Ritchie was stopped at 3.20am on December 14 driving her father’s car on Shotover Street. The car had no lights on and was weaving in its lane.

Ritchie was disqualified from driving for eight months, fined $875 and ordered to pay court costs.

Judge Phillips also highlighted the number of foreign nationals caught drink driving over Christmas and New Year.
English bricklayer Cahal Ranson, 25, of Bowen Street, Queenstown, blew 909mg when stopped on Friday at 11pm. Ranson crashed his car into another car in his street. Ranson was banned for eight months and fined $950 with costs.

Australian Steve Proimos, 27, blew 492mg when stopped on Friday. Proimos was banned for six months and fined $500, with costs.

Irishman James Fitzpatrick, 20, was also banned for six months, and fined $650 with costs, after he blew 639mg when stopped on Robins Road at 8.40am on January 1.

Frenchman Clement Dumaz, 27, blew 588mg when stopped at 12.30am on Breacon Street on New Year’s Day. Dumaz is due to be sentenced on January 14.

Judge Phillips told Ranson and other foreign nationals they were abusing their position as guests in New Zealand.

“If it was within my powers to send you home tomorrow I would,” Judge Phillips said to Ranson.

Judge Phillips also dealt with three Wanaka residents accused of drink driving.

“Ninety-five per cent of the people before me today have been drinking and driving,” Judge Phillips says.

“It is something of a concern that people seem to see it fit to break the most basic of our road laws.”

Frenchwoman Susie Suptille, who is charged with dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to accompany an officer, was remanded without plea until January 28.

Lesser charges expected for stag

A man accused of setting fire to a Queenstown pub toilet during a stag do has appeared in court.

The man, who has been granted interim name suppression, was charged with arson after the incident at the Pig and Whistle earlier this year.

Sergeant Ian Collin told the court the man had been asked to wear a uniform on the night but had instead set it on fire and thrown it towards other customers. Collin says the man then set fire to the uniform in the toilets and left it.

The pub was evacuated but the fire was extinguished before the fire brigade arrived. The toilets suffered smoke damage.

Lawyer Bruce Boivin asked Judge Phillips to adjourn the case as discussions with the police were likely to result in a far less serious charge of criminal damage.

The man was remanded on bail without plea until January 28.