Tall tales to avoid drink-drive conviction

By Jimmy Ellingham

Katu does play representative basketball but Basketball NZ says she has never made the Tall Ferns. Photo / Thinkstock
Katu does play representative basketball but Basketball NZ says she has never made the Tall Ferns. Photo / Thinkstock

An Auckland woman tried to avoid a drink-driving conviction by claiming she played basketball, volleyball, tag and touch for New Zealand, so a criminal record would harm her top-level career.

But the national bodies for those sports have no record of Jordina Metua Katu ever donning the silver fern.

Katu, 27, was caught drink-driving in May last year. She pleaded guilty but applied to the Auckland District Court to be discharged without conviction as, she said, a conviction would harm her chances of being able to travel to play basketball for the New Zealand women's Tall Ferns.

In January, Judge Claire Ryan declined to grant the discharge because while Katu had filed affidavits with the court, there was nothing clarifying Basketball NZ's position on her specifically.

APNZ was granted access to Katu's court file and can now reveal what she wrote. "I played for the Tall Ferns in 2006 and 2007. After I became pregnant with my daughter in 2007, I decided to take a couple of years off," she said in an August affidavit.

"After this break I trialled again for the Tall Ferns and in 2010 I made the team again. I re-trialled in 2011 and 2012. I have played for the Tall Ferns now for three years in total.

"If I am successful at my upcoming trials this year, 2013 will be my fourth year playing for the Tall Ferns."

In a later affidavit she said "unfortunately, and after serious consideration" she made the "hard decision" to pull out of last year's squad.

Katu does play representative basketball but Basketball NZ says she has never made the Tall Ferns. She trialled once in 2009 or 2010 but had not been on the radar since then.

Chief executive Iain Potter said his organisation had the ability to bring disciplinary action against people for bringing the sport into disrepute, but hadn't considered it in this case.

Another affidavit from Katu's former employer Natasha Suaalii, the centre manager of the Agape Aoga Amata preschool, says staff members of the centre had "supported some of her games when she has been playing for New Zealand." But yesterday Ms Suaalii said she had not actually seen Katu play for her country.

Katu also wrote in an affidavit: "Although basketball is my first love, I also represent New Zealand in touch rugby and volleyball and tag."

The national bodies for these sports could find no record of Katu playing at the top level.

Katu said she attended Oklahoma University on a basketball scholarship, and had been offered one at North Carolina University.

A spokesman from North Carolina University said she was never offered a scholarship there and a spokesman at Oklahoma University could find no record of her being a student there.

Katu was unavailable for comment.

- APNZ

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