Refugee's homesickness leads to drink driving, court hears

Last updated 13:04 07/08/2014

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Homesickness is to blame for a Nepalese refugee being caught driving at more than three times the drink drive limit, a court has heard.

Harka Bahadur Rai, 25, pleaded guilty in the Palmerston North District Court today to his third drink driving offence, as well as a charge of driving while disqualified.

He was driving a car on State Highway 56 near Palmerston North on June 22, and was seen swerving across the road.

At one stage he drove in the gravel off the left side of the road.

People saw his driving and called police, who caught up with him.

He admitted to drinking and blew a reading of 1235 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

Defence lawyer Jacinda Younger said all of Rai's previous readings, for offences in 2011 and last year, were high.

One of those readings was 1356mcg.

A refugee from Nepal, Rai had New Zealand residency but had become homesick.

He had turned to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol to try sedate his homesickness, Younger said.

Judge Stephanie Edwards convicted Rai and remanded him on bail until next month for sentencing, with the conditions he does not drink or drive until then.

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- Manawatu Standard

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