False ring to 'passenger' story

A Temuka man yesterday failed to convince a judge he had not driven while drunk, despite being located in the front passenger seat of a car.

Freezing worker Tyson Tagamoa, 23, was found guilty in the Timaru District Court of of drink-driving, with a breath alcohol level of 723mcg per litre of breath, and refusing to accompany a police officer.

The legal limit is 400mcg.

In the early hours of Sunday, January 26, Tagamoa was in a car with three associates on King St, in the town.

Temuka constable Richard Pattie noticed the car travelling north, and said he saw Tagamoa driving.

He did a U-turn and as he did the car pulled over and the three associates left the scene.

He located Tagamoa in the front passenger seat.

He had seen his door open, as well as the two back doors.

Tagamoa told the officer he had not not been driving and would not provide a breath sample or go with him to the police station. Eventually he was arrested and taken to the police station.

Judge Joanna Maze decided Tagamoa was the driver, as if someone else had been driving, they would have had to climb over him to get out.

"When all is said and done, it was the front passenger door that opened and the driver's door did not open."

As Tagamoa has two previous drink-driving convictions he was remanded to July 3 for sentencing, to allow a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

The Timaru Herald