Kelly Makiha is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Editorial: Stars who break law ought to be named

Even esteemed judges are capable of getting it wrong and in my opinion that's exactly what a Gisborne District Court judge has done.

Judge Graham Hubble has granted permanent name suppression for a sportswoman who appeared on a charge of drink-driving.

The woman was caught driving with a breath-alcohol level of 801 micrograms per litre of breath - double the legal limit of 400mcg.

Her lawyer, Marcia Insley, told the court her client, who had no previous convictions, had reached an "exceptional level" in her sport, and had been offered a chance to compete overseas. A conviction would affect her ability to do that.

Judge Hubble said Ms Insley's submission was "persuasive" and he agreed to not only discharging the woman without conviction but also not naming her.

The decision has created a stir and rightly so. Queen's Counsel Nigel Hampton has blasted the judge, saying it sends the wrong message about drink-driving.

Sports stars are role models and if they slip up, they need to be named.

It's not a fair enough argument to say they will be more harshly penalised for their crimes than Joe Bloggs off the street. It goes with the territory and sport stars need to take the good with the bad.

She isn't the first sports star to be charged with this crime and won't be the last. Does that mean they should all get off?

Every month we publish the names of those convicted in the Rotorua District Court of drink-driving. These people are from all walks of life. Some might think this is unfair but The Daily Post does this to try to deter potential killers on our roads.

Drink-driving is no longer tolerated or acceptable. The police are considering appealing Judge Hubble's ruling. Here's hoping the appeal judge makes the right decision.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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