Convicted doctor hides his face

By Sandra Conchie

A Tauranga doctor caught driving drunk after fleeing police and crashing into a building yesterday left court with a Guy Fawkes mask covering his face.

Mustafa Sabanli, 30, pleaded guilty in Tauranga District Court yesterday to driving with excess breath alcohol, driving in a dangerous manner, failing to stop for police and failing to remain stopped. He has been bailed pending sentence on August 5.

The Bay of Plenty Times attempted to seek comment from him as he left Tauranga courthouse via the back steps but Sabanli quickly removed a mask, similar to one used in the movie V for Vendetta, from a bag and placed it over his face.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board medical director Dr John Kyngdon confirmed Sabanli has resigned from his position at Tauranga Hospital but declined to make any further comment.

Sabanli, who is a first time offender, was caught drink-driving about 3.10am on June 17 after his Audi was seen being driven erratically on Takitumu Drive.

Motorists called police and Sabanli was located as he approached Tauranga Harbour Bridge.

Twice police signalled for him to stop but he drove on before pausing near Tasman Quay. He sped off as a police officer approached to speak to him.

When a second patrol car joined the pursuit, Sabanli turned off his headlights and drove into Totara St, failed to take a corner and drove on to the wrong side of the road, before he pulled back into the correct lane and sped off again. As he continued to drive without lights, Sabanli reached speeds in excess of 130km/h in the 60km/h zone.

He lost control at Totara St and Hull Rd roundabout, and hit a raised traffic island. His Audi became airborne and flew about 10m before crashing into a factory.

An evidential breath test revealed Sabanli had an alcohol reading of 924 micrograms - well over double the adult legal limit of 400 mcgs.

The Audi was written off and damage to the building cost $2500.

Sabanli's lawyer Kelly Hymers told Judge Paul Geoghegan he had taken a number of rehabilitative steps since the offending.

Judge Geoghegan said there were a number of aggravating features.

"You won't be getting community work from me."

George Symmes, Medical Council of New Zealand spokesman, said once it received a notice of conviction from the court, it might refer the matter to its professional conduct committee.

Options the committee could recommend included reviewing the doctor's practising certificate, or limiting the scope of his practice.

It could decide no further action was needed or that the practitioner be brought before the Heath and Disciplinary Tribunal.


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