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Disqualified driver considers Australia return to continue supporting family

Tuesday 28 November 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National

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Disqualified driver considers Australia  return to continue supporting family
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511

A convicted drink driver is considering leaving the Cook Islands because losing his driver’s licence for 12 months renders him unable to work to support his grandparents.

Ngametua Tupe Talau Tupuna Willie, 31, pleaded guilty to careless driving and driving with excess blood alcohol when he appeared before Justice of the Peace Vania Kenning in the Criminal Court in Rarotonga on Thursday last week.

JP Kenning convicted Willie, sentenced him to a $550 fine and 12 months’ disqualification from driving, and ordered him to pay $150 in reparation to Police for a blood test and $100 in court costs.

Willie, who waived his right to legal representation before entering his pleas, requested that he be allowed to drive for work as the sentence hindered his ability to earn money.

“I recently moved back here from Australia to help my grandparents,” Willie said.

When JP Kenning informed him the driving disqualification was mandatory, Willie asked if he would be able to return to Australia to find work despite his criminal convictions, to which the JP replied: “Yes, just fill out the departure forms.”

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Fairoa Tararo said Willie was more than four times the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his motorcycle after veering onto the side of the main road in Matavera, about 7pm on November 14.

“He stated he was trying to avoid a motorcycle taking a turn, that did not indicate in front of him.

“He was having a hard time remembering what happened, and was remorseful for his actions.”

Willie admitted to Police he drank two bottles of “stein” and two glasses of alcohol at work before mounting his motorcycle, Tararo said.

At the time of the crash, Willie’s blood alcohol level was 226.2 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The limit is 50mg.