Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Warriors star back in court for driving offences

Warriors player Kevin Locke. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Warriors player Kevin Locke. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Warriors' player Kevin Locke could miss part of the next NRL season due to court action being taken against him for a third time for driving offences.

The 23-year-old has pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while disqualified, arising from being stopped by police while driving in Ponsonby in May.

In January he pleaded guilty to two counts of driving while disqualified, was fined a total of $900 and banned from driving for a year.

It could be bad news for the young fullback and winger, with the Warriors' pre-season beginning on November 5.

The maximum penalty for driving while disqualified on a third or subsequent occasion is two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $6000, as well as being disqualified from driving for a further year.

Locke's appearance was excused when his case was called in Auckland District Court today.

His lawyer, Sumudu Thode, indicated she would apply for a community-based sentence instead of disqualification when he appears for sentencing in December.

Transport and traffic law specialist Douglas Mitchell said this provision could be granted if the court was satisfied it was difficult for a person not to breach their disqualification, and they did not pose a danger to the public by driving.

Warriors' chief executive Wayne Scurrah said he was "very disappointed'' that Locke had broken the law yet again.

"We're not only disappointed from a club perspective but also he is flouting the law and we fully appreciate that it's before the courts and we need to allow them to progress that appropriately.''

He said the club had not decided whether to undertake its own disciplinary action on Locke.

"We'll wait for the outcome from the courts and then we'll determine that with Kevin in confidence.''

He had heard the driving offence wasn't the result of an accident or dangerous driving.

"I think he was just picked up driving while he was clearly disqualified. We will take all the circumstances into account and allow him to go through the court process, and we'll then talk to him separately from that.''

Locke was first banned from driving in December, 2010, and the following month he was pulled over driving south of Whangarei.

He told the police he did not know he was a suspended driver, for which he was charged with giving false details to police, but that was withdrawn.

Just over a month later he was again caught driving while suspended.

New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Jim Doyle said the issue was for the Warriors to deal with, as he did not know about Locke's circumstances or any conditions the club may have placed on him.

He disagreed it was a bad look for rugby league.

"It's a bad look if anyone is [offending] on a regular occurrence, whether you're rugby league or rugby union or anyone else - it's a bad look.''

Mr Doyle said there had been a culture shift both here and in Australia among rugby league players.

"We've not got some of the things happening that happened in the past, and I think most people would probably agree that the amount of instances that do take place are significantly lower than used to take place a few years ago.''

Mr Doyle said the National Rugby League had handed down some tough sentences in the past.

"Also, the clubs are working with their players to make sure they ... perform well both on and off the field, and maybe that's something that more people are taking responsibility for.''

- APNZ

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