Pilot gets community work after drink-driving

19:00, Dec 20 2012

A pilot and Queenstown personality was this week sentenced to community work for causing injury while drink-driving near Queenstown.

Ronald Grant Stewart, 50, of Frankton, appeared for sentence before Judge John Macdonald in the Queenstown District Court on Monday for causing injury while drink-driving with excess blood alcohol, 137mg per 100ml, on October 21. The legal limit is 80mg per 100ml.

Stewart, who was drinking at Millbrook resort, was driving with a passenger on State Highway 6 in a 100kmh zone when he rear-ended a car with two passengers on the Shotover River bridge.

The force of the crash caused the front car's seats to break and topple, leading to the driver and passenger suffering upper body pain that required hospital treatment.

Stewart's car spun and stopped on the opposite side of the road.

Lawyer Phena Byrne said in relation to the level of carelessness that the offending was in a lower category. Her client was clearly remorseful.


He initially denied being the driver but this was because he panicked. He later admitted being the driver but said he had been distracted by his passenger's mobile phone.

He had made a grave error of judgment and was held in high regard by his employer as well as participating in numerous fundraising events.

A Civil Aviation Authority investigation concluded he did not have a drug or alcohol problem, she said.

He was sentenced to 150 hours' community work, ordered to pay $5000 emotional harm reparation and disqualified for one year.

"This has to be viewed as serious offending but isolated in the overall scheme of things," the judge said.

He declined an application objecting to media coverage in court.

The Southland Times