Jailed to protect unborn child

Last updated 05:00 11/06/2012

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A Taranaki judge has sent a pregnant alcoholic on her eighth drink-driving conviction to prison to protect her unborn child.

New Plymouth woman Tina Maree Hotene, in her 40s, has admitted her latest charge in New Plymouth District Court.

"It's tragedy on tragedy. There should be concerns for your unborn child given your proclivity for alcohol," Judge Allan Roberts told Hotene.

The jail term comes in the wake of a national debate about the future of children born to neglectful or abusive parents.

Prime Minister John Key indicated the Government was considering giving relevant agencies more power to remove babies if the parent had a history of problems or it was felt the child would be in some danger.

On Friday, Hotene's lawyer Susan Hurley said her client acknowledged her alcohol dependency and realised she was facing jail but asked that she be released by the baby's birth date in early October so that she could have her baby at home.

Judge Roberts noted that the offence, on March 17 when she blew 841mcg – twice the legal limit – when stopped on Bank St, occurred when she was already pregnant.

"She's drinking while pregnant."

At the very least she should be jailed to save the baby from dependency, Judge Roberts said.

Hotene had an abysmal criminal history, peppered with violence and a long history of alcohol abuse, he said.

She had received every opportunity to reform in the past, including detoxification, residential rehabilitation and individual counselling.

She would struggle to abstain, Judge Roberts said.

That she continued to drink and reoffend was nothing short of appalling, he said.

"Prison must follow, in particular so the child you carry is not subjected to alcohol and the consequences that flow from that."

Hotene was given 12 months' jail, the judge saying home detention was not viable.

"You are incapable of abstinence and are without support of any sort."

The sentence would include special conditions for six months on her release to attend alcohol counselling, the judge said.

Hotene was disqualified from driving for 15 months.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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