Top exec admits second driving offence

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2013
Maria Louise Robertson
TOP EXEC: Maria Louise Robertson.

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A senior public servant has pleaded guilty to a second driving offence within five months.

Maria Louise Robertson, 45, Department of Internal Affairs deputy chief executive of service delivery and operations, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one charge of "driving contrary to the terms of a limited licence" - which she had applied for in February, when she was convicted of careless driving causing injury for hitting a cyclist.

Robertson had failed to give way to a cyclist heading down The Terrace as she was turning into Macdonald Cres. It is understood the cyclist broke several bones and has subsequently had corrective operations.

Robertson applied for and was granted a limited licence, which restricted her to driving on weekday mornings and afternoons to ferry her children to and from school, and on weekend mornings for their sport.

But court documents show that, on Wednesday, April 24, she was pulled over by police about 12.50pm, again on Macdonald Cres, and told police she was rushing to what she thought was a medical emergency for one of her children. Subsequent police inquiries established there was no medical emergency.

She said yesterday that she did not feel she was in the wrong, and wanted the chance to explain herself to the court at her sentencing later this month.

She pleaded guilty to save taxpayers money, she said. "I don't believe in spending the taxpayers' money where it's not necessary. I take my job and my role very seriously. It's not what it looks like when you first read it.

"I have pleaded guilty because the reality is there wasn't an emergency. It turned out that he wasn't sick, but I didn't know that."

Police said that Robertson was not carrying her limited licence or paperwork when pulled over.

"[She] was asked by police to produce her limited licence, court paperwork and logbook. [She] failed to produce any of the items requested.

"The defendant explained to police that she was driving as there was a medical emergency involving her child, who was sick and vomiting at his school holiday programme. Police made some subsequent inquiries with the school holiday programme and they reported that there was no medical issue with the defendant's children that day."

Yesterday Robertson said: "Yes, I drove outside of the limits of my licence, in terms of time. My child put me in a position where I thought he was unwell because that's what he told me.

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"It turns out that he wasn't sick, he just actually wanted to hang out with his mum instead of [being] at a school holiday programme."

Three other charges of driving contrary to her limited licence were withdrawn by police when Robertson entered her guilty plea.

Department of Internal Affairs chief executive Colin MacDonald said he continued to have faith in Robertson's judgment.

"Maria Robertson has been open and clear about what has happened. I continue to have confidence in her ability to fully discharge her responsibilities."

APOLOGY TO MARIA ROBERTSON

An earlier version of this article stated Ms Robertson had been caught lying to police.  We were wrong.  

As the article went on to make clear, Ms Robertson was stopped by police driving to what she thought was a medical emergency involving her child.  It later transpired that there was no medical emergency as her child was not sick. 

The Dominion Post accepts that Ms Robertson did not lie to or deliberately mislead police and unreservedly apologises to her and her family for any distress or embarrassment our error may have caused.

- The Dominion Post

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