High-risk driver goes straight to jail

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 16:03 12/03/2014

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A high-risk driving offender is in custody after admitting to a dangerous run from police.

It included driving twice with his headlights off, reaching 174kmh and being over the drink-drive limit.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders effectively ruled out any sentence short of imprisonment for Paul John Donaldson, 22, by refusing to order a report on his suitability for home detention.

Donaldson will stay in custody pending his sentencing on May 13 after admitting charges of dangerous driving, driving while his licence was suspended, failing to stop for police and driving when he had a level of 445 micrograms of alcohol to a litre of breath. The limit is 400mcg.

Donaldson has already served a 14-day jail term for drink-driving and a term of community detention. He was still under release conditions after his previous sentence when the latest incident happened last month.

Donaldson's licence had been suspended for three months in January for excess demerit points, police prosecutor Sergeant Iain Patton told the court.

Donaldson owes $8000 reparations from his previous offending, which he has been paying at $30 a week.

Defence counsel Nick Rout appealed for Donaldson to be released on bail pending sentence.

He said Donaldson's mother was ill and needed his help and financial support to continue living at the home.

He argued that a prison term was not inevitable.

The judge said Donaldson's driving had been "criminal and antisocial".

It was the kind of incident where an innocent road user could be killed "by someone affected by alcohol and fuelled by adrenaline who is trying to outrun the police".

Donaldson has one previous conviction for drink-driving at the adult level, but three at the youth level of 150mcg.
Patton said that at 9.35 on a night in February Donaldson had been spotted by police driving at 174kmh in Flaxton Rd, a semi-rural area near Kaiapoi.

The police followed with lights flashing, but Donaldson made no attempt to stop. He passed four cars at speed as he drove through a roadworks area.

Police followed at a distance and saw him turn into Tram Rd and then Haywards Rd.

Radar clocked him at 114kmh in a 70kmh area. He twice turned the car's headlights off before he stopped.

He said he had driven at 174kmh because he was "just being an idiot", Patton said.

Donaldson said he had been driving after getting a call to help a family member.

That family member owned the car, which has been impounded for 28 days. 

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- The Press

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