Offender's 'addiction' to all things automotive

After he missed the bus, Taranaki man James Atkinson stole a car in Whanganui while he was banned from being behind the ...
CHRISTINE CORNEGE FAIRFAX NZ

After he missed the bus, Taranaki man James Atkinson stole a car in Whanganui while he was banned from being behind the wheel. (FILE PHOTO)

A driving "addict" has been caught out behind the wheel without a licence multiple times, including when he stole a car after missing the bus.

James Atkinson has dreams of working in the automotive industry but will spend the next nine months behind bars after pleading guilty to three charges of driving while disqualified and one of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

At Tuesday's sentencing, lawyer Susan Hurley said her 21-year-old client conceded he struggled with the driving ban.

"He feels he almost has an addiction, or problem, with driving," Hurley said.

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Since being disqualified for the fourth time in August 2016, Atkinson had been caught out by police on three occasions driving without a licence.

The first was on January 19 in Hastings and the second was when Atkinson was caught riding a quad bike along a Bell Block on a Taranaki beach on February 5.

The final offence was committed on May 30, when Atkinson missed the bus back to New Plymouth from Whanganui and decided to steal a car.

During a hearing in the New Plymouth District Court, Hurley asked Judge Peter Rollo to consider a sentence of home detention for Atkinson, despite concerns raised by the probation service about the suitability of the address.

Atkinson's father had offered his address for the electronically monitored sentence, but there had been a history of violence between the pair. 

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Hurley said the "positives" in the case were that no alcohol had been involved in the offending and Atkinson had fully co-operated with police.

Judge Rollo said the repeat nature of the offending was the most aggravating factor in the case.  While the judge accepted Atkinson had hopes of having a career working with cars, he had to demonstrate an ability to abide by court orders first.

Due to the serious of the offending, a home detention sentence was ruled out and Atkinson was jailed.

He was disqualified from driving for 13 months, which will begin on August 10. This means Atkinson will not be able to legally drive again until September 2018.

 - Stuff

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