Bird-blaming biker irks judge in Blenheim

Richard Paul McGarry was taken to Wairau Hospital with serious injuries after crashing his motorcycle off Alabama Rd, ...
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Richard Paul McGarry was taken to Wairau Hospital with serious injuries after crashing his motorcycle off Alabama Rd, near Blenheim, in March. (File photo)

A lawyer defending a biker on his sixth drink-driving charge claims his client only crashed because he was hit by a bird.

But the argument has failed to sway a district court judge, who scoffed at the idea.

"So it had nothing to do with the 123 milligrams of alcohol in his blood?" Judge Tony Zohrab said.

Richard Paul McGarry, 51, suffered serious injuries after he came off his motorcycle on Alabama Rd, near Blenheim, on March 25.

READ MORE: Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries after coming off Marlborough road

McGarry was found to have 123 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 50mg. It marked his sixth drink-driving offence.

Lawyer Kent Arnott argued at the Blenheim District Court on Monday that his client had been drinking until dawn and believed he would be safe to drive by 1pm.

Arnott also said a bird caused the crash.

McGarry, who worked as a machine operator, had been convicted for drink-driving in 1991, 1998 and 2000.

The Blenheim man was again convicted of drink-driving in 2009 when he recorded 1090 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

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Another offence in 2013, when he recorded 592mcg, saw McGarry indefinitely disqualified from driving. The legal limit at that time was 400mcg, but had since been dropped to 250mcg.

McGarry was reissued with a driving licence under the condition he must maintain a zero alcohol limit while driving.

"At the end of the day, you were on a zero alcohol licence ... You were well over the zero alcohol level," Judge Zohrab said.

Police and ambulance attended to McGarry at Alabama Rd, in Riverlands, after his motorcycle left the road and he crashed into a vineyard fence in March. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

McGarry was transferred to Wairau Hospital with serious injuries.

"It's hard to be sympathetic if you get on a motorcycle with the amount of alcohol in your system," Judge Zohrab said.

McGarry was sentenced to six months' community detention, and 18 months of intensive supervision.

A curfew from 7pm to 7am would be enforced, Judge Zohrab said.

McGarry was also disqualified from holding a licence for 18 months.

Judge Zohrab said jail time was a serious possibility if McGarry was caught drink-driving again.

"[The judge] will have to consider the interests of other members of the public sharing the road with you," he said.

 - The Marlborough Express

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