Drink-driving Jon Gadsby avoids jail

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:07 07/02/2012
Gadsby
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
SENTENCED: Christchurch comedian Jon Gadsby, in court today, has been sentenced on his fourth drink-driving charge.

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Christchurch entertainer Jon Gadsby has avoided prison on his fourth drink-driving offence after completing an alcohol rehabilitation programme.

Jonathan Ernest Gadsby, a recipient of the Queen's Service Order and former television entertainer of the year, now has to complete 120 hours'  community work and six months of supervision.

He is also disqualified from driving indefinitely and must apply, after at least a year, for permission to resit his licence to be allowed to drive.

The car the 58-year-old was driving in Aikmans Rd, Merivale, at 10.43pm on June 3 last year will be confiscated.

He had been drinking with a friend but chose to drive about 300 metres home to deliver groceries that were in the boot.

The police stopped him at a checkpoint and found his level was 1049 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

Gadsby pleaded guilty to the charge last year.

It is effectively his fourth, although an earlier prosecution was found to have special reasons and no disqualification from driving was imposed.

At Gadsby's sentencing in the Christchurch District Court today, Judge David Saunders noted the charitable work Gadsby had completed over the years.

The judge also said Christchurch was seeing a rise in drink-driving cases after the earthquakes.

He accepted Gadsby had been drinking to relieve some of the stress he had been under, but said it was not an excuse for drink-driving.

Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton said Gadsby had gone into rehabilitation seven days after he was caught last June.

Gadsby had been diagnosed as an alcoholic, but had graduated from the rehabilitation course since then.

"He has been unwavering in his efforts. They are a credit to him," Eaton said.

The judge referred to Gadsby having attended the Capri programme in Auckland, and said the supervision was being imposed solely to ensure that there was follow-up treatment.

He acknowledged Gadsby had "faced up to the consequences" of his drink-driving, and he accepted Eaton's submission that Gadsby had been well and truly named and shamed.

Eaton said the freelance writer and performer had been humiliated by the front-page coverage of the case and media interest in his personal issues concerning alcohol.

A large media contingent was in court for the sentencing today. Outside the court, Gadsby walked without commenting to waiting reporters and got into a waiting car to be driven away.

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Gadsby is a former editor of Christchurch's Avenues magazine, which has since been taken over by Fairfax.

He has performed in, written and produced comedy on television for more than 20 years.

His best-known series, McPhail and Gadsby, ran for seven years, and he was also involved with A Week of It, Issues, More Issues and Letter to Blanchy. He later worked on a stage version of Letter to Blanchy.

He has been Television Entertainer of the Year and been nominated for Television Actor of the Year several times.

Gadsby challenged police procedures when he was stopped at a "booze bus" in December 2006.

After processing, he was arrested on a breath-alcohol charge that alleged he had a level of 674mcg.

His defence that there had been too much delay by the police was rejected by Christchurch District Court Judge Raoul Neave in a reserved decision in April 2008 and he was convicted and fined $700 and disqualified from driving for six months.

- The Press

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