Bail denied for drink driver after car crash

By Sandra Conchie

A Hairini man was breaching his community detention and drunk when he crashed into a power pole and cut power to 8000 homes, a court has been told.

Russell James Burt, 42, was also caught driving while disqualified for the eighth time when he lost control as he tried to negotiate a bend on Poike Rd. His stationwagon slid sideways uphill leaving a 74-metre skid mark before destroying a power pole on July 4.

The crash brought down powerlines, disconnecting power to parts of Ohauiti, Hairini, Welcome Bay and Maungatapu.

Burt suffered serious injuries to his right arm and his vehicle was badly damaged. A blood sample revealed Burt had been driving with a blood alcohol level of 113 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The adult legal limit is 80 milligrams.

Burt was sentenced in May to three months' community detention, supervision and disqualified from driving for a year and a day for his fourth drink-driving offence .

On the day of the crash, Burt was away from his home for seven hours 32 minutes which breached his community detention curfew, the court was told.

PowerCo is also seeking $19,718.45 reparation, which was the cost to repair the electrical network, power lines and replace the power pole.

Burt, who appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday, pleaded guilty to charges of careless driving, driving with an excess blood alcohol and driving while disqualified (both 3rd or subsequent offences) and a breach of community detention.

His lawyer Whare Hika urged Judge Robert Wolff to grant bail pending sentencing on October 14, arguing there were no direct victims as a result of his client's offending.

Judge Wolff told Burt there were potentially serious consequences for a number of victims.

"What about all the people whose asthma nebulisers didn't work, or the people whose dialysis equipment didn't work, and the people who missed out watching their TV programmes?"

The judge said it was almost inevitable Burt would be sent to jail next month so it was inappropriate to release him on bail.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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