Teen wants off hook because of famous dad

AMY MAAS
Last updated 10:32 08/12/2013

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The son of one of New Zealand's most prominent leaders is being allowed to keep his drink driving charge a secret because publicity could have "extreme consequences" for his father.

The teenager pleaded guilty to driving with excess breath alcohol in the Auckland District Court last week, but will apply for a discharge without conviction.

He was originally charged in Gisborne in October after being caught driving while nearly twice the legal drink driving limit.

It is not clear why his case is now being heard in Auckland.

The teenager's lawyer, Paul Wicks, applied for interim name suppression claiming that if his client was named in the media it would have "extreme consequences for his father" who is a public figure.

The name suppression will be readdressed later this month.

Wicks told the Sunday Star- Times it was inappropriate to comment on what grounds he would be applying for a discharge because the case is still in front of the courts.

Auckland-based specialist drink drive lawyer Stuart Blake said it was uncommon for people on drink driving charges to seek name suppression.

"Name suppression is normally appropriate in cases where publishing the defendant's name would likely cause undue hardship to a victim, endanger a person's safety, create a real risk of prejudicing a fair trial or that it might cause extreme hardship to the defendant and or his family," he said.

Blake said in cases such as these there was normally no risk of endangering a person's safety and because most matters were dealt with by judge alone, there was little risk of prejudice to a fair trial.

He added that he advised his clients that pursuing name suppression - especially for a charge of drink driving where it was uncommon - could elicit the scrutiny they wanted to avoid in the first place.

"It's human nature, when we're told we are not allowed to know something we instantly want to know what the secret is."

Earlier this year, a judge's decision to discharge and grant name suppression to polocrosse player Casey Anne Mullany, 29, was widely criticised. Mullany, who has played for New Zealand internationally, was originally discharged and allowed to keep her name secret on the basis that a conviction could affect her ability to compete overseas.

Police appealed the decision and it was overturned in the High Court last month. Mullany was disqualified from driving from six months and name suppression was overturned.

A range of high-profile New Zealanders, such as actor Robyn Malcolm and Colin Carruthers, QC, had been named after drink-driving offences.

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- Sunday Star Times

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