A man who drove drunk and at speed while towing a horse float was mourning the loss of a baby.
A district court judge has sentenced Kresten Stephen Fitness to two years and one month jail, calling him a recidivist drink driver whose cruelty to two horses led to one's death.
Fitness was drinking to deal with his baby's death five months earlier, his lawyer said, when he took the float and drove at speeds of up to 120km/h around Hamilton in May.
The 26-year-old has struggled with alcohol in the past, been to jail before and was being sentenced on his seventh drink driving charge in Hamilton District Court today.
Fitness earlier pleaded guilty to 12 charges including unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, failing to stop for police, reckless driving, threatening to kill, resisting police, refusing a blood specimen, driving while disqualified, breach of bail and cruelty to animals.
When police caught up with him two horses in the float were highly distressed and one had to be put down at the scene.
Fitness was at his boss' property on Hakarimata Rd, Ngāruawāhia on May 10 when he asked to ride the man's two horses, Saxon and Tyson.
His boss said no because Fitness had been drinking.
Fitness, who lived in a caravan on the property where he worked part-time, loaded the animals into the float attached to the Isuzu ute and sped off.
At 6.10pm he was involved in a road rage incident before driving through red lights and ramming a police car at the intersection of Greenwood and Massey streets in Frankton.
He fled, driving on the wrong side of the road and was eventually stopped by police using a "tyre deflation device" in Te Rapa, 18.4km and 20 minutes into the pursuit.
Fitness' lawyer Wayne Dollimore said his client was remorseful and had undertaken programmes to deal with his drinking problem.
"What happened here is that around Christmas time he lost a baby and he had to deal with that issue and because of his previous difficulties with alcohol he resorted to his age old problem."
Judge Noel Cocurullo asked Dollimore how he could avoid jailing Fitness after seven drink driving convictions.
"You Mr Fitness have an absolute disgraceful previous conviction list for driving," Judge Cocurullo said.
He listed the previous drink driving offences between 2009 and 2016, and noted previous disqualifications for poor driving behaviour including failing to stop and ascertain injury at an accident.
Fitness had already been jailed twice before for driving offences and the judge said even if Fitness had qualified for home detention this time, he would not have granted it because the offending was serious and needed to be denounced.
"For a significantly long time you should not be in any way deemed suitable to be a licenced driver on our roads.
"Through your behaviour you caused, particularly for Tyson, needless suffering and that is a particularly aggravating factor of this exercise."
The court heard that Tyson lost his footing and fell over causing his fatal injuries.
He called Fitness' care of the animals as "absolutely disgraceful".
Fitness was aggressive, abusive, belligerent and derogatory when he was arrested by police, kicking at them and threatening them and their families.
Judge Cocurullo took into account the defendant's boss did not want him jailed and also the loss of the baby, but said this was an explanation and not an excuse.
He ordered Fitness to pay reparations of $798 to Hamilton Vet Services for the destruction of Tyson and $2800 to the horse's owner.
Fitness would also be disqualified from driving indefinitely.