Thursday 11 May 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National
Teautabo Ariu, who was already facing sentencing for a previous drink driving offence in October last year, was arrested and charged on Monday after crashing his motorcycle and subsequently failing a breath test.
The test set a new high for breathalysers at 2090 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The limit is 250mcg.
Ariu, 26, in custody, asked lawyer Mark Short to speak for him in court yesterday when his name was called on a charge of excess breath alcohol.
Ariu had been engaged with lawyer Norman George who was not present.
Short said it was a straightforward matter as Ariu had “broken all records for the highest alcohol content”.
Short said the court might want to adjourn the matter as he suspected George had not been paid.
Police asked that the matter be dealt with then another matter be called.
Probation said it was Ariu’s 12th appearance before the court and asked that his conditions be amended so that he could not enter licenced premises.
Police said he had a “huge” drink driving history and he was appearing on his fifth drink driving charge.
A sentence of 12 months of probation with three months of community service, and conditions not to consume or purchase alcohol, or enter licenced premises was recommended.
Short, in reading the documentation, said Ariu was lucky he didn’t crash into anyone.
Short said the defendant needed to be told that if he appeared in court again, he would go to jail.
Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro asked Ariu if he wanted to say anything.
Ariu told the court he needed help, his mother was getting older and he was living with her.
JP Taoro asked him what that had to do with the charge of excess breath alcohol.
“I need to be on my own,” Ariu replied.
“You have been in trouble for a long time,” JP Taoro told him.
“I think it’s the people I hang around with,” he replied.
“Being in trouble is not helping you or your mum, it is stressing her out,” JP Taoro said.
“I’m almost 30, I can change,” Ariu replied.
Short then stood and said he had been told by probation that Alcoholics Anonymous was an option, and that they had been advertising in the Cook Islands News.
“I will make sure he attends AA, I think that would help,” Short said.
JP Taoro concurred.
Probation said AA attendance could not be a condition as part of a sentence, but they could advise people.
JP Taoro said the defendant was appearing on his fifth EBA and was now facing his sixth.
He had entered a guilty plea in April and had a long criminal and traffic history dating back to 2013.
“I’m glad you are shaking your head rather than nodding,” JP Taoro said, as she looked at Ariu in the dock.
Alcohol had been the main contributor to ongoing issues and he had been advised to undertake help with Alcoholics Anonymous, JP Taoro said. He was convicted and sentenced to 12 months of probation with the first three months to be served as community service.
He was told not to purchase or consume alcohol, nor enter licenced establishments, and not to leave the Cook Islands.
Ariu was then disqualified from driving for 12 months.
His name was called again on an additional charge of contempt, and a new drink driving charge which included the record high breath-alcohol reading.
Short suggested the matter be sorted at the same time with a guilty plea, but was reminded by police that Ariu was facing an additional EBA charge.
As it was a high reading, it would go before a panel of three Justices of the Peace.
Short then asked for the matter to be adjourned for disclosure.
JP Taoro adjourned the matter to June 1.
Short approached Cook Islands News following the hearing and asked for contact details for Alcoholics Anonymous.