The importance of being needed – it can get you off a drink-driving rap without conviction

As a bloke who has been known to sink a pint or two on occasions, and maybe chase the pint or two down with a few nips of best Scotch, Alf is greatly heartened by a morsel of news from the courts.

He finds a precedent has been set for important people like him to drive home from the Eketahuna Club with a bit much booze on board, to be picked up by the cops, to be hauled before the courts, and then to be sent home without a stain on his character, although maybe there would be a stain or two on his liver.

Now let it be said that Alf would never drive home from the Eketahuna Club with a bit much booze on board, or from anywhere else, for the very good reason that it is thoroughly illegal as well as being highly dangerous to other citizens.


Staining his character would be politically unwise, too, it should be appreciated, because Alf needs his neighbours’ votes and their respect (which is why he never spends public money on pornographic movies, massages or flowers for the missus).

Based on the above, readers will understand that what follows is 100% hypothetical.

The situation Alf envisages is that he drinks a bit much, drives home, is caught and fails the breath test, and appears before the wonderful Judge Phil Gittos.

In that situation, he is a shoo-in to be let free without conviction.

Alf’s expectation of leniency is based on a Herald report today.

A senior policeman who admitted driving while nearly one and a half times over the legal alcohol limit was let off after a judge decided it was more important he stay working.

Sergeant Jason Lamont, 39, was pulled over last August with a reading of 113mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The Auckland officer was charged with excess blood alcohol and pleaded guilty in the North Shore District Court in April.

But Judge Phil Gittos discharged Mr Lamont without conviction, saying his role and experience outweighed the importance of the conviction.

“The judge basically took the view that it effectively wouldn’t be in the public interest for an experienced and well-regarded senior police officer to be out of a job,” defence lawyer Steve Bonnar told the Weekend Herald.

“That the public’s better served by having him remain in the police.”

Get it?

Alf would have the sure-fire assurance of being freed, even if he pleaded guilty.

There can be little doubt that the wonderfully wise Judge Gittos would be familiar with Alf”s remarkable record of public service for the good people of Eketahuna North, and would apply precisely the same reasoning that he has applied in the case of Sergeant Lamont.

Alf salutes the sergeant, by the way, because obviously he is good bloke doing good work.

Should any of Alf’s constituents wish to know how to pull off this legal stunt for themselves, they are hereby advised that the copper’s defence counsel applied for the exemption under Section 106 of the Sentencing Act,

…which says any person charged with an offence, who is found or pleads guilty, may be discharged without conviction unless “by any enactment applicable to the offence the court is required to impose a minimum sentence”.

If should be further noted, mind you, that Judge Gittos did disqualify Sergeant Lamont from driving for six months and ordered him to pay court costs, because the act also allows the court to make “any order that would be required to make on conviction”.

This would not be troublesome to Alf, because he can walk home from the Eketahuna Club, and in fact always does, which is why he would never find himself before Judge Gittos or any other judge on a drink-driving rap.

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