Gisborne Sportswoman Case: Police were “let down by the system and a weak judge”

An ex-police officer has criticised the judicial system in New Zealand after a Kiwi judge discharged a sportswoman from a DUI charge and gave her permanent name suppression.

The sportswoman, who had twice the adult legal amount of alcohol in her system when caught drink driving, was given name suppression partly because of the effect a DUI rap would have on her ability to compete abroad.

Today the Herald published an interview with a “long serving traffic officer” ex policeman Stu Kearns, who headed the Waitemata serious crash unit. He told the paper that the decision undermined the police’s efforts to control drink driving, saying

“It’s absolute bollocks … it just beggars belief,” he said. “From what has been reported, it is disgusting. It’s a mockery, and it makes the job of the police a lot harder. People the police process for drink driving now will say, ‘Oh well, that athlete got off’, and think they can too.

“The police did their job, brought this person before the courts and they were let down by the system and a weak judge. It’s pathetic.” read more here

Police are currently seeking legal advice on whether they can appeal the court’s decision.

According to the NZTA youth drink-driving is one of the largest causes of death and injuries in New Zealand roads. Each year, young drivers cause nearly half of all alcohol-related road crashes.

Last week an Auckland barrister, Satendra Prakesh Singh, was banned from driving for six months and fined after pleading guilty to drink driving after he was involved in a road crash. He had  144mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – nearly twice the legal limit. He tried, unsuccessfully, to apply for name suppression.

The disparity between that judgement, and previous name suppression cases, is bound to lead to accusations that New Zealand has a two-tier legal system where sporting and media personalities who are likely to travel abroad receive clemency that is denied to others.

For more read posts tagged name suppression.

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