Sportswoman given suppression, discharged

Last updated 11:56 04/02/2013

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Police are taking legal advice to see whether it's worth appealing a judge's decision to discharge a sportswoman on drink-driving charges.

Gisborne District Court judge Graham Hubble discharged the woman without conviction and granted her permanent name suppression after she appeared on a charge of driving with almost twice the legal alcohol limit.

Police said today they were seeking advice from the Crown Law Office on whether an appeal would be lodged.

They said the woman was not well known nationally and did not play a mainstream sport.

Her lawyer Marcia Insley had argued that her client had reached an "exceptional level" in sport, and a conviction would affect her ability to compete overseas, reports of the court appearance said.

While Hubble said that was a persuasive argument, his decision has been widely criticised by Nigel Hampton QC, Students Against Drink Driving, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

The woman was caught driving with a breath-alcohol level of 801 micrograms per litre of breath – double the legal limit of 400mcg.

Hampton said high-profile individuals such as actor Robyn Malcolm and QC Colin Carruthers had been named after drink-driving offences, and he could not understand the discharge or name suppression.

He said it sent a poor message to those who held sports people in high regard.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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