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Man facing drink driving charges has case adjourned

Wednesday 27 July 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Man facing drink driving charges has case adjourned
Photo: COOK ISLANDS NEWS

The hearing of a man facing drink driving charges was adjourned to August 30 after defence lawyer Norman George says there is no case to answer in the Criminal Court at Avarua yesterday.

George represented Tei Harawira who is charged with reckless driving and excess blood alcohol in the defended hearing.

Harawira, a man in his 40s, pleaded not guilty to reckless driving and excess blood alcohol on March 3 after changing from a guilty plea. 

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.

In the hearing there was mixed messages on who took Harawira’s blood. The nurse and doctor who saw Harawira after the incident were both brought in as witnesses by police. Both initially said the other person did the test.

“From my memory I didn’t take the blood,” the doctor said.

George told Justice of the Peace John 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.

The matter has been adjourned for August 30 for the JP to decide.

George opened the hearing by saying his client was seriously assaulted after the collision and it was not being investigated by police.

George said he had filed an official complaint to police.

“Defendants can be victims as well, like what happened here,” George told the JP.

“To me justice is not served if we’re going to ignore what happened. There’s only concentration on the main man, the accident causer so to speak.”

George asked JP Whitta for the hearing to be adjourned so he could speak to the police inspector in charge of the professional standards division who is currently in New Zealand. George said he wanted the police inspector to explain what was being done about the assault complaint.  

However, JP Whitta denied the adjournment because the alleged assault “was not relevant” to the charges Harawira faced.

“The assault did not have any bearing on whether he was driving recklessly or if he had an excess blood alcohol reading. That has nothing to do with whether this occurred.”

George said he was disappointed by the JP’s decision.

The JP said: “I am here to hear a charge of reckless driving and a charge of EBA (excess blood alcohol).”

Police called nine witnesses including a nurse and a doctor.