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Carterton woman drove drunk on home detention

By Staff Reporter

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A Carterton woman on home detention was caught driving with a breath alcohol level two and a half times the limit and claimed to have drunk just one bottle of light beer.

Wendy Brown, 48, escaped penalty in Masterton District Court yesterday for breaching her home detention sentence but failed in a bid to suppress her name.

Brown, of rural Carterton, pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching home detention, one of drink-driving with a breath alcohol level of 1033mcg, and one of refusing to accompany a police officer, relating to the same incident in August. The legal breath alcohol limit is 400mcg.

At the time, Brown had served seven months of a 12-month home detention sentence for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Sergeant Garry Wilson said the probation service went to visit Brown on Wednesday, August 25, but she was not at home.

While probation staff were at the property, Brown returned home in her car and, seeing them, turned around and drove towards Carterton.

Brown was followed and stopped on State Highway 2. Police arrived and asked her to submit to a breath test, which Brown initially refused.

She claimed to have drunk one bottle of light beer.

Brown's lawyer, James Elliot, said she had managed to comply with a "very strict sentence" that included regular probation visits and breath testing, and had "completely abstained" from alcohol since beginning her sentence in February. This was despite a dependence on alcohol related to a mental health condition.

Mr Wilson said Brown had breached her sentence and put the community at risk by driving with "an extremely high level of alcohol in her system".

Judge Tom Broadmore said Brown's actions "must be treated as a relapse rather than a flagrant and deliberate breach of your home detention sentence".

Mr Elliot argued for name suppression on grounds of "protection of the complainant" and concern for a relapse of her health condition.

Mr Wilson said many before the court had mental health or psychological issues and if all were to have name suppression, "that would not be serving the interests of the public".

"It doesn't override the right of the public to know what's going on through the courts," he said..

Judge Broadmore said there was also an extreme reluctance on behalf of the courts to suppress names in drink-drive cases.

Brown was sentenced to 120 hours community work and disqualified from driving for eight months on the drink-drive charge, and convicted and discharged for the breaches of home detention and refusing to accompany police.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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