Car crash driver escapes jail term

By Trevor Quinn of the Wairarapa Times-Age -
The car Thompson was driving spun 360 degrees before careering off the road and rolling on its roof a number of times before coming to a stop on its wheels. Photo / File
The car Thompson was driving spun 360 degrees before careering off the road and rolling on its roof a number of times before coming to a stop on its wheels. Photo / File

A 28-year-old Masterton man who crashed and rolled his car has been convicted for convincing a 17-year-old girl to tell police she was driving.

Stephen Gordon Thompson was sentenced to five months' home detention, 150 hours' community work and disqualified from driving for six months when he appeared in Masterton District Court on Monday.

He pleaded guilty to four charges - careless driving causing injury, operating a vehicle while causing sustained loss of traction, drink driving and perverting the course of justice.

The charges related to an incident at around 9.20pm on September 10 when Thompson was driving at West Bush, Masterton.

Thompson, a sickness beneficiary, revved the engine causing the vehicle to lose traction, and the car to spin 360 degrees, careering off the road and rolling over a number of times on its roof.

There were two passengers in the vehicle at the time.

A police report said the car was rolled with such force it ripped out about 40 metres of wire fencing.

The car came to a stop on its wheels. Thompson and the rear seat passenger fled the scene.

The female front seat passenger required hospital treatment for a broken right clavicle.

Thompson and the rear passenger were tracked to a nearby address by a police dog. A breath test on Thompson showed 833mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, more than twice the 400mcg legal limit.

When Thompson was questioned by police he denied driving the vehicle. Sergeant Jodie Lawrence, prosecuting, said that on September 11 Thompson's co-accused Ashleigh Keene, who also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, was at a fuel station in Masterton. Thompson asked her if she would agree to tell police she was the driver in the crash.

Keene visited the scene of the crash on Skeets Rd with Thompson and on September 11 made a statement to police stating she was the driver and was subsequently arrested.

On September 27, Keene went into Masterton Police Station and told police the true version of events.

The next day Thompson was arrested and admitted he was the driver at the time of the crash.

In court on Monday defence lawyer Ian Hard said Thompson was a young man who suffered from depression.

He said that was no excuse but it had clouded his judgement.

"It didn't fool police for long," he said.

Judge Behrens said he needed more time to consider an appropriate sentence for Keene after her lawyer Louise Elder said a conviction could have serious consequences on her future travel and employment prospects. Sentencing was adjourned until today.

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