Hit-and-run driver loses appeal


A high court judge says a hit-and-run driver’s time in prison is justified because he was drunk, speeding and reckless when he bowled resort woman Mutsuko Morisue.

Justice Cameron Mander dismissed an appeal by Nicholas Edward Catlin over the length of his sentence.

Catlin, then 33, was locked up for two years and four months by Judge Bernadette Farnan in the Queenstown District Court in June.

The British builder was nearly three times the legal limit when he lost control of his car, mounted the kerb outside the Copthorne Hotel on Stanley Street and struck Morisue, on March 3.

He did a runner and caught a cab home, but was picked up by police
shortly afterwards.

Mander says his failure to stop after the incident, and the injuries suffered by Morisue, also justified the sentence.

At a hearing in Invercargill on October 9, Catlin’s lawyer Liam
Collins argued the prison term was “manifestly excessive”.

The starting point used by Judge Farnan was too high, and a four-
month uplift for Catlin’s two previous drink-driving convictions in the United Kingdom were also excessive, he said.

But in his written decision, Justice Mander says previous sentencing
decisions referred to by Collins did not persuade him that Judge Farnan made an error.

Collins’ argument that a four-month uplift was excessive did not stand scrutiny, as it recognised the increased culpability of an ofender whose previous bad conduct had continued in this country.

“. . . he has continued to drink and drive notwithstanding the inherent
risks of such conduct. That has now resulted in very serious injury to an innocent victim.”

Morisue spent two months in hospital after suffering a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures.

Catlin will be deported upon his release.