A man who drove while disqualified to buy some cigarettes to ease his stress has been sentenced to time in jail.

John Leitrim Henderson-Newport, 39, a delivery man, admitted the charge of driving while subject to an indefinite disqualification imposed in 2007. He told the Whanganui District Court that at the time of the April incident he had just two interviews with drug and alcohol counsellors left to regain his licence.

His defence counsel, Debbie Goodlet, explained her client had gone for the cigarettes due to issues at home and to ease his stress levels.

Judge Dugald Matheson said he had read several very positive letters of support for Henderson-Newport, as well as a very sincere letter from the defendant himself.


"You claim a lightbulb has switched on and I believe you. You had been at drug and alcohol counselling to restore your licence and had reportedly been doing really well. If you had completed those last two interviews, you would have got it back. You were so close."

In sentencing, Judge Matheson said Henderson-Newport had shown repeated disregard for court orders, which must be complied with; however, he said there were no aggravating factors other than the fact the defendant was driving.

Henderson-Newport was sentenced to four months' imprisonment and disqualified from driving for 12 months. Judge Matheson ordered a letter be sent to the owner of the vehicle warning that the defendant should not drive it.