A recidivist drink-driver with 15 convictions has been jailed for two years and told by a judge he can only apply for home detention if he lives in a rehabilitation facility.

Leonard James Emery, 58, appeared in the Rotorua District Court yesterday for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to charges of drink-driving third or subsequent and disqualified driving.

He now has 15 convictions for drink-driving starting in 1977, and has been disqualified from driving indefinitely.

Judge Phillip Cooper said several of Emery's previous drink-driving convictions had high readings, including one when he was found with a breath alcohol level of 2039 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.


The legal limit is 250mcg.

In the latest case, Emery was found more than four times over the legal limit when stopped by police doing a routine check on Lake Rd on April 11 about 9pm.

He had a reading of 1189mcg and admitted to police he was "stupid".

Emery was indefinitely disqualified from driving in October 2011. He now has nine previous convictions for driving while disqualified, suspended or revoked.

When Emery pleaded guilty in May, Judge Cooper described his life as a "train wreck" and wanted to find alternative methods of sentencing him. He called for a cultural report to be done under Section 27 of the Crimes Act.

The court heard yesterday Emery had a long history of alcoholism and grew up in a "party house" where alcohol was frequently present.

Judge Cooper said he noted Emery had tried to give up alcohol at a residential rehabilitation facility before but it had not worked.

Judge Cooper said there had been just three convictions in the past 10 years with the last being five years ago in 2013 - which he said he took into account when considering Emery's overall extensive drink-driving history.


A prison sentence would allow him time away from the temptation of alcohol but would also give the public safety for a period, Judge Cooper said.

He said although Emery was eligible for home detention, he would only grant him leave to apply for it if the address was at a residential rehabilitation facility.

Upon release from prison, Emery will be subject to six months of prison release conditions to allow him to complete appropriate alcohol programmes and counselling as directed by his parole officer.

The sentence also includes a 12-month period of disqualification from driving, however he was already disqualified indefinitely.

Emery was not the first to clock up a large number of drink-driving convictions.

Tauranga man Phillip Noble pleaded guilty to his 20th drink-driving charge and ninth charge of driving while disqualified last month.

Gregory Mulligan was convicted of a fifth drink-driving charge in the Whanganui District Court yesterday.

Drivers convicted in the past 10 years:
2008: 1470

2009: 1620

2010: 1308

2011: 1256

2012: 1062

2013: 898

2014: 747

2015: 776

2016: 792

2017: 822

Source: Ministry of Justice