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A ‘sorry history’ of driving offences

GISBORNE District Council will not receive reparation of over $56,000 to replace the traffic lights at the Peel Street-Palmerston Road intersection and repair the bridge.

A man with a “sorry history” of driving offences who crashed his vehicle there, taking out the lights and damaging the bridge, narrowly avoided going to prison but is in no position to pay.

The intersection has been controlled by a makeshift roundabout since the incident.

At Gisborne District Court Judge Robert Spear told Zacary Bob Tuturangi Te Pairi, 31, that his offending was such that he could have been charged with assault using a motor vehicle as a weapon, but he conceded “it's not for me to work around the selection of charges by police”.

Te Pairi pleaded guilty to driving with excess blood alcohol, and two charges of dangerous driving. He was sentenced to four months home detention with a number of special conditions, and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Judge Spear said the offending was “right at the upper level”, and while Te Pairi's counsel, Manaaki Terekia acting for Heather Vaughn, requested a sentence of community work, the judge found that would have been inappropriate. Three of Te Pairi's earlier driving convictions were for driving while disqualified.

Mr Terekia said Te Pairi could not pay the reparation sought by the council as he was on a jobseeker benefit.

At about 11.30pm on July 17 last year, Te Pairi had an altercation with his ex-partner and another person occupying a Suzuki Swift. Te Pairi was driving his sister's car at the time, and he drove over the centre line, hit the Suzuki, then sped off. He failed to take a right-hand bend, clipped the traffic light at the intersection, mounted the footpath and demolished a concrete abutment at the Peel Street Bridge. The car he was driving was written off.

He sustained only minor injuries but recorded an excess blood-alcohol level of 193 milligrams, nearly four times the legal limit.

Ms Vaughn had suggested a starting point of five months detention, to be followed by an electronically-monitored sentence. Counsel also sought a sentence of community work. The court heard that since his offending, Te Pairi had completed studies and obtained a class 4 heavy truck licence.

“You can forget about a career in the transport industry for a while,” the judge told Te Pairi.

“I am surprised that you were not charged with assault using a motor vehicle as a weapon. It is certainly a case of dangerous driving.”

Being intoxicated aggravated that, and causing so much damage aggravated it further, he said.

“You are in no position to make any payment, you're on a benefit, and you're already paying off your sister for writing her car off. You cannot afford to pay anything toward reparation, so that is a loss to this community,” the judge said.

He had considered jailing Te Pairi, and told the court that if the charge were assault with a motor vehicle he definitely would have been imprisoned.

The special conditions the judge imposed on Te Pairi included that he was not to possess drugs or alcohol, and to take any programmes his probation officer deemed appropriate, including a violence programme.

As well as his licence disqualification for 12 months he would have a zero-alcohol licence imposed for the following three years.