Former New Zealand and world bowls champion Gary Raymond Lawson has admitted his third drink-driving offence and has been ordered to carry out community work and supervision.
The 49-year-old pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today, and the Probation Service prepared a brief report on him before he was sentenced by Judge Raoul Neave.
The judge said when he asked for the report: “This and the previous convictions are indicative of a problem that may benefit from some investigation.”
Lawson has prior drink-drive convictions in 1995 and 1998, according to defence counsel Pip Hall QC.
Mr Hall said he had discussed the previous convictions with Lawson and he was willing to make himself subject to an alcohol interlock licence for the next three years.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Jeff Kay said Lawson refused to undergo a breath screening test when he was stopped while driving a car on Racecourse Road, Christchurch, at 9.13pm on November 15 – Cup Day.
He later underwent an evidential breath test which showed level of 1002mg of alcohol to a litre of breath. The legal limit for prosecution in court is 400mcg.
Lawson told police he had waited over an hour for a taxi but could not get one so he drove, Sergeant Kay said.
Judge Neave said the high breath-alcohol level was “a little concerning”.
Mr Hall said it was a case of frustration at not being able to get a taxi after drinking at the races. Lawson thought that his level would have dropped in the meantime. He was very remorseful.
Judge Neave sentenced Lawson to 80 hours of community work, six months of supervision with a direction to do the Driver Change programme, three months of driving disqualification, and authorisation for an alcohol interlock licence.
Lawson has previously been at loggerheads with bowling’s national body and was banned from the game for six months in 2010 and fined $5000. He took the penalty to appeal through the Sports Tribunal. After mediation there, he withdrew the appeal and agreed to accept Bowls New Zealand’s decision and findings in the case. He withdrew from consideration from national selection, and Bowls New Zealand agreed to waive enforcement of the fine it had imposed.
He quit bowls in 2012 and said he would not play again in New Zealand unless there was a change of direction at Bowls New Zealand.
He has been seen as the country’s most successful lawn bowler, with 10 national titles, three world titles, as well as centre and club titles.