Jail for impersonating brother

By Kiri Gillespie

A Tauranga man has been jailed for impersonating his brother to avoid a drink driving conviction.

In the Tauranga District Court yesterday, Phillip Tuhakaraina, 26, was sentenced to eight months' jail for perverting the course of justice and three months' jail for driving with excess breath alcohol, to be served concurrently.

Defence counsel MaryAnn McCarty said her client deserved a reduced sentence because he pleaded guilty at his earliest opportunity and had expressed remorse for his actions.

It was his third conviction for excess breath alcohol, she said.

Tuhakaraina was stopped by police in September after drinking with older brother Major Tuhakaraina at bars in central Tauranga.

Major had given Phillip his ID which he used to get into nightclubs.

When Phillip recorded a drink driving level of 896 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, he claimed he was his brother.

Phillip appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the drink driving charge, still posing as Major.

It was not until Major received a letter from the Ministry of Justice about the incident he was made aware of what his brother had done.

Judge Robert Wolff told Phillip that such actions usually resulted in a jail sentence "because they strike at the very heart of justice".

"You pleaded guilty under his name and as a consequence ended up with a conviction he ought not to have that had to be unraveled."

Judge Wolff said he reduced a starting sentence point of 12 months' jail for perverting the course of justice to eight months.

Phillip was also disqualified from driving for one year and one day.

He was supported by his cousin's partner Matiu Grace, who said outside court that the jail sentence was disappointing.

"I've been getting him work, labouring work, around the place. You know, trying to keep him busy.

"Now I have to go tell his nan who's here he's gone away."

Mr Grace said Phillip and his brother did not get on.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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