Motorcade police officers' convictions quashed

A judge has quashed the dangerous driving convictions of two police officers involved in the Prime Minister's motorcade.

Sergeant Ian Howard and Constable Simon Vincent were convicted and fined $650 after the July 2004 dash from Waimate to Christchurch airport.

But at the Timaru District Court today, Judge Priestley upheld their appeals.

The officers have been discharged without conviction and their court costs have been waived.

Their lawyer, James Rapley, earlier told the court the incident Howard was charged over was at the bottom end of the scale of dangerous driving.

He claimed the original trial judge gave too much emphasis on deterrence, when there was not a need to deter others as the incident was unique.

Crown solicitor Tim Gresson had argued the two officers only assumed urgency and had not made inquiries.

But the judge asked how realistic it would have been for them to question the situation.

In the original case, Howard was also convicted and discharged on a charge of following too close.

The Prime Minister's chauffeur, who had name suppression, had his motorcade conviction overturned in December.

The drivers were convicted after taking Helen Clark from Waimate to Christchurch airport at high speed so she could make a flight back to Wellington for an All Blacks test.

- NEWSTALK ZB, NZPA

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