The Chills' Martin Phillipps in court

By Rob Kidd

Phillipps told police he had drunk two large whiskeys and was "going to McDonald's to get some food". Photo / Jason Oxenham
Phillipps told police he had drunk two large whiskeys and was "going to McDonald's to get some food". Photo / Jason Oxenham

The lead singer of iconic Dunedin band The Chills has admitted drink-driving.

The Dunedin District Court this morning heard that Martin Phillipps was struggling over a relationship breakdown and had some bad news about his mother's health when he took to the whiskey bottle.

The 53-year-old was stopped by police in the early hours of October 16 this year and blew a reading of 845mcg - more than twice the legal limit.

Phillipps told police he had drunk two large whiskeys and was "going to McDonald's to get some food", prosecutor Sergeant Adrian Cheyne said.

The musician was the driving force behind The Chills and has been part of the band since its inception in the 1980s with the band's initial signing to Flying Nun Records.

Defence counsel Jo Turner provided documents to the court which she said outlined her client's "serious medical conditions".

They would make a sentence of community work "unsuitable", she said.
Turner said that, at the time of the offence, Phillipps was going through a relationship break-up, causing him some stress.

He had also received some bad news that morning about his mother's health, the court heard.

"This has resulted in a relapse," Turner said.

"There was one bottle of whiskey left in his house and he decided to have a few drinks. He accepts he had made a particularly foolish decision to get some food."

Phillipps' lawyer said he had re-engaged with his support network and had not been drinking since the charge was laid.

Phillipps' lawyer said he had re-engaged with his support network and had not been drinking since the charge was laid. Photo / Martin Sykes
Phillipps' lawyer said he had re-engaged with his support network and had not been drinking since the charge was laid. Photo / Martin Sykes

Turner said her client was in a position to pay a "larger than normal" fine - as much as $2000 - but Judge Noel Sainsbury put off sentencing until next year.

The judge said he wanted to see how Phillipps progressed in the interim.

"What concerns me is that obviously there's a real problem with alcohol he's been struggling with," Judge Sainsbury said.

"If we put this off into the new year and we get some further assurance he's continuing to remain abstinent - which it's pretty clear he has to be - that's going to make a significant difference to the attitude of the court."

Judge Sainsbury stressed he could make no promises about what Phillipps' final sentence would be when he returned to court in January.

- Otago Daily Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 24 Jan 2017 19:14:16 Processing Time: 363ms