Call to charge people who let drunks drive

By Anita Moran of the Daily Post -
Sonia Wilson says her daughter Whittney Robertson would still be alive if someone had stopped the drunk driver jailed for her death from getting behind the wheel. Photo / Alan Gibson
Sonia Wilson says her daughter Whittney Robertson would still be alive if someone had stopped the drunk driver jailed for her death from getting behind the wheel. Photo / Alan Gibson

Rotorua coroner Wallace Bain has called for silent witnesses to become criminally responsible if they allow repeat drink-drivers to get behind the wheel.

The coroner released his findings yesterday on an inquest into the death of Rotorua 23-year-old Whittney Robertson.

Ms Robertson died instantly when disqualified repeat drink-driver, 35-year-old Royland Alexander McCann, smashed his 4WD head-on into the car in which she was a passenger near Atiamuri in May 2009.

McCann, now serving a four-year jail sentence, had been drinking the night of the crash. It was his fourth drink-driving offence.

In his findings, Dr Bain said urgent consideration needed to be given to introducing legislation which "placed culpability on people who stood by and allowed recidivist drunken drivers to drive motor vehicles on the road".

"Those culpable in my view are any person who is in a position to do something about it and who by any reasonable test, fails to act. It is very clear to me that those people should have criminal responsibility."

Bay of Plenty acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Stuart Nightingale told the coroner a programme which had been running in the Eastern Bay of Plenty had proved to be a deterrent for repeat drink drivers.

"Instead of waiting for these people to drive, police go into their home and make them aware they are a risk to the community ... it's aimed at the worst of the worst recidivist drink-drivers," Mr Nightingale said.

The national manager of road policing, Superintendent Paula Rose said police would support legislation to help holding others accountable but noted there would be "operational implications" in bringing it about.

Whittney's mother, Sonia Wilson previously told The Daily Post her daughter would still be alive if someone had stopped McCann driving.

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