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Court told drink driving and careless use increasing on Raro

Wednesday 7 December 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, Crime, National


Court told drink driving and careless use increasing on Raro
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511

A man who drove when nearly four times over the legal limit, and then crashed, has left the victim unable to continue playing contact sport.

Gaven Kautai was convicted of drinking driving and careless driving causing injury when he appeared in the High Court at Avarua for sentencing on Thursday.

The court heard Kautai had a reading of 900 micrograms per litre of breath - the legal limit is 250 micrograms per litre of breath.

“Compounding that is causing injury,” Justice Colin Doherty told the court.

“You consumed a considerable amount of alcohol, you collided with another motorcycle, you can’t remember anything about the incident, you say.”

The court heard, the victim, a female motorcyclist, was taken to hospital, and as a result of the crash, was unable to attend work for six weeks.

She was left unconscious, which had led to hearing loss in one ear.

While, previously being engaged in contact sports, she had since been told she cannot continue playing.

Kautai, 40, had no previous convictions, and was told it was out of character.

After receiving submissions from police and probation, Justice Doherty said Kautai looked after his mother, had work, and had made some reparations to the victim.

The aggravating feature was the amount of alcohol in his system, and a general starting point was imprisonment, Justice Doherty said.

The mitigating factor was it being his first offence.

“I’m not sure of your drinking,” Justice Doherty told him.

“You have taken responsibility, you have been prepared to make good, some indication of your acceptance and remorse.

“The purpose of my sentencing you, is to first make you accountable, to denounce this conduct.

“I’m told by police that drink driving and careless use of vehicles in increasing on the island.”           

Justice Doherty said the roads outside the main settlements on Rarotonga were not conducive to anything other than good driving.

“They are narrow and there are no footpaths.

“There needs to be a deterrent, people need to know we take a stern approach.”

Justice Doherty said he didn’t intend to send Kautai to jail, but reminded the defendant he would be facing a custodial sentence, if it was his second offence.

He sentenced Kautai to 12 months’ supervision, six months of that to be served as community service, undertake any workshop or programme as directed by probation, and not leave the Cook Islands without the permission of the courts.

He was ordered to pay $510 to the victim plus $150 for blood analysis costs, then disqualified from driving for 18 months.