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Drink-driving defence fails to gain traction in court

Wednesday 21 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Court, Crime, National


Drink-driving defence fails to gain traction in court

A trial of a man accused of reckless driving and driving with excess blood alcohol will likely go ahead, after the defence lost its claim there was no case to answer.

Tei John Harawira appeared before Justice of the Peace John Whitta on Tuesday in the Criminal Court in Avarua. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless driving and driving with excess blood alcohol.

According to police at around 12.13am on February 13, Harawira crashed a pickup truck into a parked car on the main road by The Islander Hotel. Harawira’s blood alcohol limit was allegedly more than four times over the legal limit.

Defence counsel Norman George argued the evidence had so far failed to establish an offence.

JP Whitta said there was “no dispute that the defendant was involved in a crash”, but defence argued Harawira had not driven recklessly and the process taken to process his blood sample was unsuitable.

“It would appear the car was parked safely on the side of the road. I find it stretching credibility somewhat to suggest the only way the parked car could be seen was by aid of the rear reflectors. A parked car, even a small hatchback, is still a reasonably large object, and should not have been difficult to see,” JP Whitta told Harawira.

George told JP Whitta because the medical practitioners could not remember taking the blood sample, it could not be accounted for and said there was no case to answer.

 In response, JP Whitta said he could not see how the fact the practitioners could not remember who took the blood sample did “endanger the credibility of the sample itself”.

“At this stage I have no reason to doubt the accuracy or veracity of the tests themselves,” JP Whitta said.

In response, George lodged an appeal of the decision on the grounds that it failed to take into account certain procedural matters, in particular the alleged assault on the defendant.

JP Whitta told George that the alleged assault was not part of the case, and was not even in the summary of facts.

“I’ve already sought guidance on your approach. It should not go ahead,” JP Whitta told George.

“What you’re asking me to do is to look into a charge that has not even been made or lodged as a complaint.”

The matter was adjourned to February 9 to ascertain progress of the trial, while Harawira was remanded on bail.