Mother caught driving with three kids in boot

By Sam Hurley

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A judge has told a Napier mother who was caught driving with seven unrestrained children in the car, three of whom were in the boot, that what she did was "something a large number of families would do" thirty years ago.

Tracy Waihape, 39, appeared in Napier District Court on four charges after an incident in Wairoa on August 5.

She pleaded guilty to driving while unlicensed, failing to remain at a checkpoint, failing to stop and resisting arrest and was convicted and sentenced to 80 hours community work.

When police stopped Waihape they found she was transporting a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old and two 14-year-olds unrestrained and in non-compliant car seats that were not secured to the body of the car.

Waihape then fled the scene, and took police on a 2km pursuit that reached speeds of 65km/h.

As a constable attempted to arrest her she pushed the officer and told him to "f**k off".

With Waihape in custody and in the back of a patrol car, police impounded the Subaru, but as they began searching the vehicle they discovered three more children, aged 4, 5 and 10, under a cargo cover in the car's boot.

When checking the vehicle, police discovered the warrant had expired in 2011, registration had expired in 2012 and Waihape was unlicensed and had been forbidden from driving since 2010.

Waihape's lawyer Philip Jensen said the case was "a matter of panic".

"The whole family were extremely vulnerable and emotional," he said referring to a tangi in Gisborne they were travelling back from.

"Her thought process was that her and her children would just be left on the side of the road in Wairoa if the police impounded her car." Mr Jensen also argued against members of the media taking photographs of his client because of an "emotional consideration" for her children.

"Do they have to see their mother's photograph in the newspapers?" Judge Jonathan Down agreed and said the case was not bound by public interest, while media scrutiny went "beyond what is necessary".

"The way you behaved on that day was dumb," Judge Down told Waihape.

"I'm sure if you could go back you would to it differently."

Judge Down joked at the beginning of proceedings and said that 30 years ago what Waihape did was "something a large number of families would do".

He entered convictions on all four charges and sentenced Waihape to 80 hours community work for resisting arrest.

It is understood Waihape, the mother of six of the seven children, and a grandmother of one has also be served with infringement notices for carrying the seven children in the car in unrestrained and unapproved car seats.

She has previously appeared in court on unrelated charges and was issued with a warrant for her arrest when she failed to arrive at the Wairoa District Court on August 7 to face her latest charges.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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