Go straight to prison, do not pass go

Monday 24 February 2020 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Crime


Go straight to prison, do not pass go

A 61-year-old road cleaner Ngatokorua Tariu has been convicted and fined $300 for an excess breath alcohol charge.

He was stopped on his motorbike at a police checkpoint at Tupapa, where he blew an alcohol reading of 750mcg – nearly the double the 400mcg limit.

This was his second appearance on a similar charge, said prosecuting senior sergeant Tuaine Manavaroa.

Defence counsel Norman George said his client, being a bachelor, found relaxation by having a few drinks. “Unfortunately, he got on his bike and was not so lucky.”

But it emerges this weekend that, in fact, Tariu was lucky – lucky to escape prison.

Police say resource constraints and maintenance work mean they can no longer hold drink drivers in the cells at police headquarters – so they are not being sent straight up to the prison, pending a court appearance.

After arrests this weekend, three more drivers will face drink-drive charges at the High Court.

A fourth person, with a history of drink-driving and driving while disqualified, was blood tested after failing a breathalyser at more than double the limit.

Two of the drink-drivers are being held at the prison at Arorangi.

“While the debate in the community about drinking and driving continues, and messages around safer driving are ignored week to week, the Police are grappling with ongoing resource constraints,” said Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt.

“Anyone falling foul of the law and subject to arrest will risk lock-up time in Arorangi Prison, for the immediate term.

“Police are now processing offenders to be held at the prison for up to 48 hours, due to maintenance needs at National Headquarters.”

Meanwhile at the High Court, Norman George pleaded for the Justice of the Peace to consider his client Tariu’s situation: a well-liked man during his service for the public, respectable, and now living on his pension.

JP Carmen Temata ordered Tariu to pay $50 court cost and advised him that he was now disqualified from driving for the next 12-months