No-shows dominate court proceedings

By Court Reporter

Judge Jim Large from Palmerston North was the presiding judge for list day at the Whanganui District Court on September 27.

Judge Large adjourned the court early, at 11am, because of the large number of cases that could not be called due to either defendants or lawyers not showing up.

At least seven defendants did not appear when they were called in the first hour of court. And in one case the defendant was stood down because her lawyer was late arriving to court.

The court resumed just before 11.30am.

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A defendant who was due to appear on a charge of driving with excess breath alcohol did not appear because she lives in Australia. Linda Anne Lagudi was stopped by police on August 20 in Whanganui and breathalysed. She was found to have a reading of 689mg per litre of breath. Lagudi did not appear and the judge noted that she lives in Australia. He issued a warrant for her arrest.

* * * *

A 17-year-old defendant drove her car while over the alcohol limit because she was scared of her boyfriend, according to her lawyer. Na-Keta Clarke was fined $675 and disqualified from driving for six months by Judge Large. Her lawyer, Harete Hipango, said Clarke was at a party when a fight broke out and her then-boyfriend pulled out a knife. Mrs Hipango said Clarke was "scared" so she got in the car and drove away. "Her thought processes were to take flight, but she takes full responsibility for her actions." Judge Large noted this was Clarke's first offence. "However, I have to deal with you the same as any other person," he said.

* * * *

Bruce Steven Fowler appeared before the judge for a review of his home detention sentence. Community probation officer Craig Hammond said Fowler had just 11 days left to serve on his sentence but, through no fault of his own, his home address had become unavailable. Mr Hammond requested that the remainder of Fowler's sentence be cancelled. He said Fowler had been fully compliant with the terms of his sentence and had completed rehabilitation. "The only other alternative is for him to go to prison for the rest of his sentence," Mr Hammond said. Judge Large asked the defendant why he should cancel his sentence. Fowler replied that he had received an offer of employment and wanted to go back to work to support his family. Judge Large agreed to cancel the remaining 11 days.

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An Argentianian man faces a week in prison if he does not carry out a community work sentence imposed in the Gisborne District Court in February. Jose Luna appeared in court on a charge of breach community work. He was sentenced in February to 50 hours community work after pleading guilty to a charge of driving with excess breath alcohol. Mr Hammond said Luna has completed none of his community work. His lawyer, Mrs Hipango, said Luna had intended to report for community work, but his car broke down on the way and he never followed up with it. Soon afterwards he moved from Gisborne to National Park. Mrs Hipango said Luna intended to leave New Zealand on November 15. She said he could complete the community work hours before then in Ohakune and Taumarunui. Judge Large remanded Luna to appear in the Whanganui District Court on October. "That gives you time to complete this community work. If you don't, I'm recommending you spend seven days in prison."

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Awa Tori Te Moana Ewe pleaded guilty to four charges including driving while disqualified, failing to answer a court summons, breach of community work and breach of supervision. The offences happened in Auckland. Ewe is now living in Whanganui, and Mr Hammond said she was now cooperating with the probation service. He said she had completed 81 hours of her 100-hour community work sentence. Judge Large remanded Ewe on bail to appear on December 2 for sentencing.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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