Binge then drunken rampage

By Staff Reporter editorial@age.co.nz -
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An arrested woman used handcuffs to damage a police car. PHOTO/FILE
An arrested woman used handcuffs to damage a police car. PHOTO/FILE

A woman arrested twice within four days for drink-driving damaged a police car and furniture, assaulted a police officer and tried to drink another can of alcohol before being taken into custody, Masterton District Court heard yesterday.

The 45-year-old, who has permanent name suppression, pleaded guilty to two charges of drink driving, careless driving, driving while forbidden, assaulting a police officer, obstruction and wilful damage.

She was sentenced to 18 months' intensive supervision.

According to police, the woman had been drinking at a Masterton house all day on Wednesday, February 3.

They said she got into an argument with the occupants before leaving in her car -- a hatchback.

She returned some time later and pulled into the driveway, yelling abuse from her car window.

When stopped by police on the road soon after the woman was "uncooperative and abusive towards the officer".

She smacked the officer's arm hard enough to knock the breathalyser machine out of his hand and into her own vehicle, then refused to return it.

Taken to Masterton Police Station for breath testing procedures, she was obstructive.

She shut off power to the machine, pulled at its cords, tore paper out of it and blew her nose on it.

That delayed proceedings for an hour and a half.

The machine returned a reading of 545mcg.

When the police officer left the room the woman threw chairs, rammed them into doors and screamed abuse.

She then attempted to block the door and prevent him coming back in.

A chair had the seating torn off it and another was thrown down a corridor, breaking one of its wheels.

The woman was put in a cell where she held a lighter to the bedding for several minutes, attempting unsuccessfully to set it on fire.

On February 6 police were called to a car crash on Kuripuni St in Masterton involving the same woman.

A badly damaged car was found on the roadside with the woman sitting in the back seat.

She initially denied being the driver and refused to be breath-tested, until she was warned she could be arrested. The test read "over 400" and the woman agreed to accompany police. When looking for her keys the woman climbed into the front passenger seat, where she opened a can of bourbon and attempted to drink from it.

When the police officer moved to stop the woman drinking, she tried to bite him on the arm. Other police then took the woman from her car and handcuffed her. While being taken to a police car she kicked the officer "extremely hard in the behind" causing initial bleeding. She also leaned against the police car and damaged it with the handcuffs.

In sentencing Judge Barbara Morris said: "If I just look at what happened on February 3 and February 6, it's an appalling piece of conduct ... your response to police was appalling."

Judge Morris said she viewed the woman's actions "through the lens of your condition", details of which were outlined in a mental health report. The judge said traumatic events in the woman's life in the late 2000s had led to alcohol problems -- events the woman's lawyer, James Elliott, said constituted "acts of serious violence" against her.

Judge Morris said the most important factor in her sentencing was the woman's willingness to attend residential treatment for alcohol addiction. "The sentence is to help you and thereby help the community."

If the woman appeared again on a drink-driving charge, the sentence would instead be "designed to protect the public by keeping you away from the public".

The woman was sentenced to 18 months' intensive supervision, including assessment and counselling for family violence and alcohol. Judge Morris said a report showed the woman was at high risk, and the prosecution accepted there was a link between this risk and publication of the woman's name. Permanent name suppression was granted.

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