Intoxicated man who drove speedboat near swimmers discharged without conviction

A Thundercat, similar to the one Johnson drove.

A Thundercat, similar to the one Johnson drove.

A qualified master mariner who pleaded guilty to drink driving a Thundercat speedboat at excessive speeds has been discharged without conviction. 

Timothy Johnson, 27, was charged with operating the boat at speeds greater than 40 knots through Oneroa Bay, Waiheke Island, in March of this year.

There were about 200 moored vessels in close proximity and also people swimming near where Johnson was driving. 

Waiheke's Oneroa Bay where Johnson drove the Thundercat at excessive speed while intoxicated.

Waiheke's Oneroa Bay where Johnson drove the Thundercat at excessive speed while intoxicated.

When breathalysed over an hour after the incident, he had an alcohol reading of 1201mcg of alcohol per litre of breath - almost five times over the legal driving limit. 

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Thundercats are tunnel-hulled inflatable speedboats which are often used for competitive racing.  

Johnson, who lives on Waiheke Island, and works for a cruise line company, appeared before Judge Allan Roberts in Auckland District Court on Monday. 

Judge Roberts told Johnson his actions were dangerous and irresponsible. 

"You came within less than 10 metres of another vessel," Roberts said. "Your level of intoxication was grossly excessive."

Judge Roberts told Johnson it was clear based on his qualifications, which included being a master mariner, that he was a talented seaman. 

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"To cap it all off you had taken an intoxicating amount of liquor. You of all people should know better." 

Due to Johnson having to travel for his career, having a conviction would seriously affect his job, making it almost impossible to continue working, the court heard. 

"There are real and appreciable risks that, were a conviction entered, you would be prevented from entry to certain countries," Judge Roberts said. 

Judge Roberts noted Johnson, who had no prior convictions, had voluntarily paid $3000 to a charity, undergone counselling and shown responsibility for his offending. 

The police had no opposition for Johnson to be discharged. 

"I am satisfied in all other respects, your life is in order... you are discharged without conviction," Roberts said. 

The decision comes as Auckland police are still trying to piece together what happened to swimmer Leslie Gellberger. 

Gellberger, whose body was found in Auckland's harbour last month with a leg missing, is believed to have been hit by a boat. 

 - Stuff

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