Police failure to formally identify a drink-driving suspect has seen a Timaru man let off an excess breath alcohol charge and one of sustained loss of traction.
Joshua Thomas Craig, 25, pleaded not guilty to the two charges in the Timaru District Court yesterday.
A witness gave evidence that early on May 6, 2012, she woke to hear someone revving their engine and doing burnouts in Jackson St.
She rang 111, and noticed a number of neighbours were already on the street with their phones. She said she saw two males in a Nissan. They got out of the car with bottles in their hands and swapped places.
Police arrived and Craig was breathtested and blew 1050 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.
Other witnesses gave varying accounts, with one saying there were two cars and another saying the car was metallic green and others saying it was grey. There were also differing accounts of what the driver was wearing.
Judge Joanna Maze was critical of the officer in charge for selectively using witness accounts to determine the identification. Only one of the witnesses identified the car as belonging to Craig, who lived at the corner of the street.
"The defendant denied being the driver and obviously identification was going to be an issue. It is incumbent on the officer to review what evidence he has available and in light of the conflicts set about a formal identification process.
"It appears the officer has elected to follow the statement of one witness ignoring the inconsistencies of others.
"In the absence of a confession to drink-driving and sustained loss of traction and no evidence of identification it follows that both charges must fail," Judge Maze said.
- © Fairfax NZ News