Seven police officers corner fleeing driver near a bar, with two women

Thursday March 05, 2020 Written by Published in Crime

Driver breath-tested at twice the alcohol limit tells JP he had drunk only two cans of Woodstock. 

It was 1.30 in the morning, when three police officers on a night shift patrol were driving their squad car towards Avarua.

Out of the darkness came a speeding jeep, careering down the roads in the direction of Arorangi.

On a bend on the main road at Nikao, near the weather station, the jeep careered across the line into the path of the police vehicle, nearly hitting the police, before returning to its lane.

The police made a u-turn and radioed for assistance. Another four police officers, who were at Nikao social centre, joined the pursuit.

Police said the driver was so fast that at one time they lost sight of the jeep.

But they continued the pursuit and finally stopped the motorist near the Road House bar in Arorangi.

Tere Junior Mare was identified as the driver of the vehicle, found with two female passengers.

He agreed to undergo an evidential breath test and that returned a reading of 870mcg alcohol. He was then taken to the police station where he was charged with excess breath alcohol and dangerous driving.

A full year after the March 9 arrest, Justice of the Peace Georgina Williams this week issued her judgment. She said Mare had disputed whether the breathalyser test result was correct.

In a comprehensive ruling, Williams found the police process was robust. She convicted Mare, and fined him $500.

Seven police officers were involved in apprehending Mare and three of them gave evidence in court, while four other police officers statements were submitted to the court and consented.

Williams said the evidence showed that the officer responsible for conducting the test smelt alcohol on the defendant’s breath and conducted a breathalyser test. A print-out of the breath test was given to the defendant.

Mare was asked if he would like an evidential blood test as the reading was over 590mcg. He declined.

He was then taken to the station and again asked if he wanted a blood test. He again declined, and was charged.

During the trial, Mare did not deny that he had been drinking after working at his plantation.

According to his recollection, he had two cans of Woodstock. His wife and friends wanted to go out and he dropped them to Luna Bar about 10pm.

He said he went home to babysit and at about 1am he returned to pick them up and drove towards home at Arorangi. It was at this point that the seven officers apprehended him.

He described his driving as being normal and at the speed limit of 40kph.

But Williams said she was satisfied with the prosecution having proven the evidential breathalyser test was correct and it was confirmed that the breathalyser machine was warranted and certified confirming that the machine was calibrated and deemed accurate.

She said the process was correct. “It was unlikely the defendant only drank two cans of Woodstock.”

On the charge of dangerous driving, she said the three officers who first noticed Mare identified him as the driver of the jeep.

There were two witnesses in the jeep, she noted, but neither came forward as witnesses.

Defence counsel Mark Short asked for leniency, saying Mare was a planter and the sole breadwinner of his family.

For the drink-driving, Mare was sentenced to a fine of $300 and disqualified from driving for the next 12 months. On a charge of dangerous driving he was further fined $200

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