Doctor drives drunk, flees from police

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Dr Mustafa Sabanli leaves Tauranga Courthouse dressed in a mask after pleading guilty to drink driving charges. Photo / Joel Ford
Dr Mustafa Sabanli leaves Tauranga Courthouse dressed in a mask after pleading guilty to drink driving charges. Photo / Joel Ford

A Tauranga Hospital doctor caught driving drunk after fleeing police and crashing into a building left court yesterday wearing a Guy Fawkes' mask to avoid being photographed.

Dr Mustafa Sabanli, 30, pleaded guilty to driving with an excess breath alcohol, driving in a dangerous manner, failing to stop for police, and failing to remain stopped.

He appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday and was bailed pending sentence on August 5.

The Bay of Plenty Times attempted to seek comment from him as he left Tauranga courthouse via the back steps but Sabanli quickly removed the mask from a bag and placed it over his face.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board's medical director Dr John Kyngdon confirmed that Sabanli had resigned from his position but declined to make any further comment.

Sabanli, who is a first time offender, was caught drink-driving at about 3.10am on June 17 after his Audi was seen heading along Takitumu Drive, swerving within two lanes, and driving at erratic speeds.

Concerned motorists called police and Sabanli was located as he approached Tauranga Harbour Bridge.

Twice police signalled for him to stop but he drove on before stopping briefly near Tasman Quay, but sped off again as a police officer approached his vehicle and spoke to him.

When a second patrol car joined the pursuit Sabanli turned off his headlights and drove into Totara St, failed to take a corner and drove onto the wrong side of the road, before pulling back into the correct lane and sped off again.

Continuing to drive with his headlights turned off, Sabanli reached speeds in excess of 130km/h in the 60km/h zone.

He lost control of the vehicle at Totara St and Hull Rd roundabout, and hit a raised traffic island.

His Audi became airborne and flew about 10 metres before crashing into a nearby factory building.

An evidential breath test revealed Sabanli had an alcohol reading of 924 micrograms - well over double the adult legal limit of 400 mcgs.

The Audi was written off and the crash caused about $2500 damage to the building.

Sabanli's lawyer Kelly Hymers told Judge Paul Geoghegan that Sabanli had taken a number of rehabilitative steps since the offending.

Judge Geoghegan said there were a number of aggravating features.

"You won't be getting community work from me," the judge said.

George Symmes, spokesman for the Medical Council of New Zealand, said once it received a notice of conviction from the court it might refer the matter to its Professional Conduct Committee. The Committee could recommend it should review the doctor's practising certificate or limit the scope of the doctor's practice, he said.

It could also decide no further action was required, or decide a charge should be brought against the doctor before the Heath and Disciplinary Tribunal.

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