Lying racer convicted and discharged after Trevor Mallard's intervention
A young driver caught speeding through Lower Hutt at 210kmh has been spared any further punishment after lying to police.
His name will also remain secret after a judge said he had "suffered a lot" from publicity about the case, stemming from the intervention of his behalf of MP Trevor Mallard.
The 24-year-old was convicted and sentenced earlier this month for racing another car on State Highway 2 in September.
He was also convicted on a further charge of giving a false statement to police, on which he appeared for sentencing in Hutt Valley District Court on Wednesday.
Mallard, MP for Hutt South, wrote a letter of support for the man, under Labour Party letterhead, urging the court to suspend the conviction on the grounds that he was "a young man with tremendous potential" whose years of study could be "negated by a conviction for lying to the police".
On Wednesday, Judge Chris Tuohy agreed the man had "a lot of potential to succeed" in his chosen industry. He declined to suspend the conviction, instead convicting and discharging him.
In effect, it means the man will face no punishment for lying to police, after telling them he could not have been driving because his car had been stolen at the time.
The judge granted him permanent name suppression, saying, "You have suffered a lot because of the degree of publicity" and "it must be difficult for you".
He also suppressed the name of the man's employer, which knew of the offending and was keeping his job open.
Police said after the hearing that it was "inappropriate for police to comment on decisions made by the judiciary".
Police Minister Judith Collins' office also said she would not be commenting.
Mallard declined to comment on the outcome of the case, but said the publicity surrounding it would not change how he approached constituents' requests for help in future.
"Sometimes, as in this case, I have information which is important to my reasoning but not available to media," he said.
"It is not my expectation that those without an understanding of the facts will always support my action in particular cases.
"However, it is important to me to support my constituents where appropriate, and to respect undertakings of confidentiality.
"I will continue to consider requests for support or character references carefully and treat them on their merits."
Earlier this month, he said he did not know the man personally, but knew his family.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace, who said earlier "I certainly wouldn't be writing a letter of support for someone who has been so reckless", said on Thursday that the hoped the man had "learned a very good lesson from this experience".
"Driving a car at 200kmh is crazy when, in a split second, you can not only ruin your own life but also take the lives of innocent people had there been an accident.
"I hope he will now move forward, working hard on being a good citizen of Lower Hutt."
WHAT THE JUDGE SAID:
Judge Chris Tuohy told the man that providing a false statement to police was an act which is "not unusual [with] young men who commit driving offences".
"Police have heard that story [that the car was stolen at the time of the offending] 100 times and it was never going to work out.
"You unfortunately continued with it to the stage of a written statement.
"You did the right thing in telling your ... employer about it ... and you've still got the same [bright] future in front of you."
He declined the man's request to be discharged without conviction, "because I don't think the indirect consequences of a conviction outweigh the gravity [of the offending].
"In particular, it's already been shown that your employment is still available to you.
"You have suffered a lot because of the degree of publicity, even though it doesn't name you, it must be difficult for you."
He permanently suppressed the man's name because "further publicity would cause great hardship to you" and possibly to his employer.