Leniency rewards early plea

Last updated 12:00 04/07/2014

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A judge said fining an Eketahuna farmer for his second drink-driving conviction "smacks of fining the rich" but has done exactly that.

In the Palmerston North District Court yesterday, Jonathan David Baxter pleaded guilty to the offence.

He was caught in Palmerston North in the early hours of June 29.

The 31-year-old's reading was 827 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath; the legal limit is 400mcg.

Defence lawyer Richard Bedford asked Judge Gregory Ross to fine Baxter instead of imposing the sentence of community work typically prescribed for a second drink-driving conviction.

Baxter ran a farming operation and was about to start a busy time of the year with calving, Bedford said. "That will make it hard for him to do community work."

The judge said Bedford's request would go against what happened to most people on their second drink-driving conviction. "If it is just a fine, it smacks of fining the rich."

He fined Baxter, not for those reasons, but because he had pleaded guilty barely a week after being charged. Baxter was fined $900 and disqualified from driving for 10 months.

The judge said Baxter had a list of convictions for alcohol-fuelled offences, which showed he had an alcohol problem.

For that reason, he was also sentenced to nine months of supervision.

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- Manawatu Standard

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