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Guilty verdict for man who challenged excess blood alcohol charge

Thursday 27 October 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Court, Crime

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Guilty verdict for man who challenged excess blood alcohol charge
The Cook Islands High Court in Avarua. 17120750

A man who attempted to defend himself against charges of driving with excess blood alcohol has lost his case.

Joeli Ledua Ligavatu appeared before Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro at the Criminal Court in Avarua on Tuesday. He had pleaded not guilty to driving with excess blood alcohol, and guilty to careless driving.

According to the summary of facts, read out in court, on March 13, 2022, Ligavatu was driving a pick-up truck to the Muri markets but crashed into a power pole after attempting to avoid a passing cat.

He had a blood specimen taken on March 14, 2022, which resulted in a reading of 67mcg per 100ml of blood, the legal limit is 50mcg.

When questioned after the blood test, Ligavatu claimed the test was faulty and he did not drink alcohol, and the test was faulty. He said he had not drunk alcohol in three years.

However, JP Taoro said the Court was satisfied that the analysis of the defendant’s blood-alcohol was undertaken correctly.

“It is the Court’s understanding that the relative low level of blood-alcohol could not be smelled by the officers,” JP Taoro said.

Defence counsel Norman George said he and his client took exception to the $5000 in reparations sought for repairing the power pole.

“Those power poles are decades old, there have been no independent valuations,” George said.

He asked the Court to consider this matter in the Civil Court, which he felt would be able to get a “truer value” of the actual damage caused.

George also said the “relatively low level” of the blood-alcohol exceedance should also be taken into account.

JP Taoro allowed George’s suggestion to go ahead in regard to determining the reparation costs of the power pole.

On the driving with excess blood alcohol and careless driving charges, Taoro disqualified Ligavatu from driving for 12 months, fined him $350 in Court costs and ordered him to pay $150 in reparations for the blood test.