Counselling orders pointless - judge

Last updated 05:00 26/06/2012

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A District Court judge says it's pointless ordering people with drinking problems to undergo alcohol counselling if they don't want to help themselves.

His comments, made in the Invercargill courthouse yesterday, follow a retired southern shearer last week calling on District Court judges to force offenders to undergo alcohol counselling if they were problem drinkers.

Judge Kevin Phillips, when sentencing 34-year-old electrician Dennis Anton Robertson for his third drink-driving offence yesterday, indicated Robertson had not recognised he had an alcohol problem and wasn't putting his hand up for treatment.

Judge Phillips said it was no use putting orders in place for alcohol counselling if offenders rejected it because of their attitudes.

"I would rather spend justice money on someone that actually wants help."

Robertson's lawyer, Hugo Young, told the judge that his client had a "drinking issue, obviously". Robertson had said he was minimising his drinking but a drug and alcohol assessor believed Robertson should give up alcohol altogether, Mr Young said.

Judge Phillips sentenced Robertson to four months' community detention and disqualified him from driving for 14 months.

Robertson was caught speeding in Dee St at 33kmh above the speed limit with more than double the legal alcohol limit in his system on April 22. His reading was 904mcg of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

The judge said it was Robertson's third drink-driving offence since 2000.

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- The Southland Times

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