Drink-driver avoids jail for fourth offence

Last updated 11:30 24/10/2012

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A Picton man has avoided being sent to prison on his fourth drink-driving conviction because his previous driving-related conviction was five years ago.

Chase Hutchison, 27, a shearer of Waikawa, was sentenced to six months' community detention when he appeared in Blenheim District Court yesterday. He was also sentenced to six months' supervision to attend counselling and was disqualified from driving for 13 months after admitting driving with a breath alcohol level of 844mcg (legal limit 400mcg), a third or subsequent offence.

Judge Peter Hobbs told Hutchison the only thing saving him from home detention or prison was the "relatively historical" nature of his three previous offences, which were in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

A probation report showed he was complying with the strict release conditions he was on from a prison sentence and was motivated to stay out of prison, he said.

Judge Hobbs warned Hutchison he would go back to prison if he was caught drink-driving again.

Defence lawyer John Holdaway said Hutchison had got work with a shearing gang since his release and was taking a parenting course. He had also joined a gym and a sports team and sentencing him to prison would not help with the rehabilitation he needed for his problems with alcohol.

Also appearing on drink-driving charges yesterday were:

Kim Leigh Hapakuku, 49, unemployed, of Riversdale, admitted driving with a breath alcohol level of 590mcg in Maxwell Rd on October 17, a third or subsequent offence, and was sentenced to 60 hours' community work, six months' supervision and disqualified from driving for 12 months and one day.

Mr Lucas said her two previous convictions were from 1980 and 1992.

Defence lawyer Mike Hardy-Jones said the time between convictions showed her problem was with driving rather than drinking.

Judge Hobbs said a probation report showed Hapakuku did not have an alcohol problem, but there were other significant personal issues that may have contributed to her offending. The report showed she was willing to go on a programme to help with those problems, which was the purpose of the supervision.

Tyson Wairau Robson Thwaites, 19, unemployed, of Blenheim, admitted driving with excess breath alcohol of 323mcg (legal limit under 20 is zero) and was fined $500 and disqualified from driving for three months.

Mr Lucas said Thwaites was stopped at a police drink-drive checkpoint in Van Diemen St, in Nelson, about 3.18am on September 15. He told police he had had only a couple of drinks.

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Defence lawyer Kent Arnott said it was Thwaites' first drink-driving charge.

- The Marlborough Express

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