Former alcohol rehab boss jailed on drink-driving charges

Last updated 00:00 07/09/2007

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In the grip of his alcoholism, the former director of a Christchurch alcohol rehabilitation centre committed three drink-driving offences in just over a week – two on one day, Christchurch District Court was told today.

Ewen James McLeod, 60, a serving prisoner convicted on fraud charges, was jailed for a further five months this afternoon on a series of charges including two of excess breath alcohol, one of excess blood alcohol, driving while prohibited, careless driving and failing to accompany a police officer.

McLeod was the director of the failed Christchurch alcohol recovery centre The Deanery, which left creditors with debts of $300,000 when it collapsed in 2003. The centre catered for high-profile clients and treated British model and actress Paula Hamilton.

He was jailed for seven months last June after pleading guilty to charges of breaching bankruptcy regulations, dating from 2004 and 2005 when he was an undischarged bankrupt.

Jailing McLeod on the latest charges today, Judge Jane Farish told him he would have to serve the sentence at the expiry of his current term of imprisonment.

McLeod, the court was told, failed an evidential breath test at 9am on March 7 and had been forbidden to drive for 12 hours.

At 5pm the same day he was seen drinking from a beer can while driving a car on Dyers Pass Rd, Governors Bay, on Banks Peninsula where he lives. He pulled to the side of the road and continued drinking.

A police officer warned McLeod several times at the scene about his refusal to accompany the officer to a police station, and a breath test showed he had 749mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

On March 15, McLeod reversed a BMW car out of his Diamond Harbour driveway, getting it stuck in a ditch on the other side of the road. He then drove a second car to try to tow the BMW out of the ditch.

He appeared affected by alcohol and told police he was going to drive to the shops. He admitted driving the second vehicle to try to tow out the first.

Lawyer Tim Fournier said McLeod's life "began to unravel" after the collapse of The Deanery. He was "in the grip of his alcoholism" when he committed the driving offences and was a "danger to himself and other road users".

Mr Fournier said McLeod had been able to detox and gain some insight into where his life was heading during his current imprisonment. He now believed his disease had reached the stage where he could never drink again.

Judge Farish noted that McLeod had suffered alcoholism for most of his life.

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"These offences occurred at a time when your disease had got the better of you," she said.

She accepted McLeod had suffered a "major fall from grace" over the last few years.

"Quite frankly, if you don't stop drinking you're going to kill yourself," Judge Farish said.

- NZPA

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