Spiked drinks 'cause of crash'

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 19/02/2013
ANZ bank crash
Nelson Police

AFTERMATH: The car sits where it came to a halt inside the ANZ building.

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The man who drove a car into the ANZ bank on Trafalgar St last year has told a court he cannot remember the incident and believes his drinks on the night were spiked.

Shannon William Mosen-Taku, who lives in Motueka, appeared in Nelson District Court yesterday and was sentenced for driving with excess breath alcohol, reckless driving, failure to stop for the police, driving while disqualified and a breach of bail.

On the night of December 1, Mosen-Taku was driving a Toyota car when he was seen turning left into St Vincent St to avoid a police checkpoint.

The police pursued him with sirens on, but ended the chase after speeds exceeded 90kmh.

At the corner of Trafalgar and Hardy streets, the Toyota clipped the back of a taxi, mounted the curb, smashed down two bollards and crashed through the glass frontage of the ANZ bank.

A breath test revealed Mosen-Taku had a breath alcohol level of 735 mcg per litre of breath, and he admitted to being a disqualified driver.

The legal driving limit is 400 mcg.

Mosen-Taku has two previous convictions for driving with excess breath alcohol and two others for driving while disqualified.

Lawyer Craig Stevenson said it was clear Mosen-Taku had made poor decisions on the night, both in getting behind the wheel of a car, and then the decisions he made while driving.

"He's remorseful for what transpired that evening. It could have been a situation where innocent members of the public and passengers of the motor vehicle could have been hurt or worse."

On the Monday after the incident he had gone into ANZ to apologise to the manager.

Mosen-Taku had recently moved to Motueka to live with his brother and his partner, and had two job opportunities at a laundromat and a packhouse.

Judge Phillip Moran asked Mosen-Taku whether he remembered getting behind the wheel.

Mosen-Taku told the judge he did not remember anything, and believed the shot he had been drinking had been spiked by a man who, he said, had been arrested for spiking drinks the following weekend.

Judge Moran said despite this, his actions on the day had been appalling.

"While you don't remember it, it's not like you were unconscious in the moment."

Mosen-Taku had acknowledged his responsibility by pleading guilty, and had a pre-sentence report that was not discouraging.

He had also recognised the harmful pattern of substance abuse, as well as the need to do something. "Without that, your life is going to be ruined."

Judge Moran said he could sentence Mosen-Taku to jail or home detention for his crimes, but he had decided on a less restrictive sentence that could help him address this addiction problems.

He sentenced Mosen-Taku to six months' community detention, 12 months' supervision, and 120 hours of community work.

He also ordered him to pay $1000 to the taxi owner, to go toward paying her insurance excess, but he did not order any reparation in regard to the ANZ.

The bank could pursue him through the courts if they wished, he said.

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On the charges of driving with an excess blood alcohol, driving while disqualified and reckless driving, as well as the failing to stop charge, he disqualified him from driving for a total of 15 months.

Once the disqualification period ended, Mosen-Taku would have to apply for a special zero-alcohol licence if he wanted to drive.

- The Nelson Mail

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