Man tries to trick police
A Woodbourne man has been sentenced to six months' community detention, 200 hours' community work and six months' supervision for wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Tristan Johannes De Groot, 31, swapped seats with a relative before they were pulled over by police and then claimed he had been driving.
De Groot, who had been drinking, was the passenger, and his relative was a disqualified driver.
He appeared in Blenheim District Court on Friday for sentencing.
The court was told that De Groot and the relative drove past a police patrol car in Lansdowne Rd in Blenheim at 9.50pm on May 17.
After being spotted by police, the relative drove up a nearby driveway and swapped seats with De Groot, who then told police he had been driving.
He was subsequently breathalysed and recorded a breath alcohol level of 977mcg (the legal limit is 400mcg).
When De Groot's case first came before the court, he admitted he had not been the driver.
Crown prosecutor Sophie O'Donoghue argued that De Groot's actions showed premeditated and deliberate offending.
However, his lawyer, Rob Harrison, said the "stupid" decision to swap seats was a rush of blood to the head, made while intoxicated.
Mr Harrison said De Groot's relative only informed his client that he was disqualified after they were spotted by police.
De Groot was worried his car would be confiscated for 28 days if they were pulled over, Mr Harrison said.
He argued that his client's actions were not as serious as other cases of perverting the course of justice.
"This is not like someone using someone else's driving licence on a number of occasions," he said.
"He made a stupid decision but confessed rather than being found out."
A probation report said De Groot showed genuine remorse for his actions and, in particular, the impact on his children, Mr Harrison said.
Judge Tony Zohrab said the maximum penalty for trying to pervert the course of justice was seven years' jail.
However, he accepted that De Groot had acted on the spur of the moment.
De Groot's relative had since been dealt with in court for driving while disqualified, Judge Zohrab said.
However, the court would never know how much alcohol had been in his system as a result of De Groot's actions, he said.
Judge Zohrab warned De Groot that he would be sent to jail if he tried to pervert the course of justice again.
The Marlborough Express