Problem driver runs out of second chances

The disorganisation and chaos of Richard Graham’s life has reached the limits of a judge’s patience, and the 28-year-old has now farewelled his children for a few months.

“Give the kids a hug,” he called to his partner in the public seats at the Christchurch District Court as he was led away to the cells.

He had been given a seven-month jail term that arises from driving while disqualified.

Graham’s defence counsel, Steve Hembrow, told the court: “The facts of life for Richard Graham is that he is disorganised. His life is in chaos.”

He asked for the sentencing to be adjourned to allow Graham a chance to have another address checked out for home detention. His mother had offered to move out of her flat so that Graham could live there.

Judge Tom Gilbert immediately declined that suggestion, and the sentencing carried on.

The judge detailed the saga that had led to the jail term for the father-of-two, who has three previous convictions for driving while disqualified or suspended, and five for driving while prohibited.

He has a cannabis conviction from 2007, which Graham said was a time of high stress and anxiety. He gave up all cannabis use, because he found it made his anxiety worse.

He has also clocked up 30 or 40 driving infringements offences over the last few years.

His undoing began on August 18, when he was caught driving while disqualified.

He had to come along to court for an appearance on that charge on October 30 but he found his ride had fallen through.

Unbelievably, said Judge Gilbert, he drove to court and was caught again and a second charge was laid. He pleaded guilty.

A pre-sentence report was ordered on those two charges but Graham failed to turn up for his Community Probation interview.

Because of that, the sentencing on December 13 could not go ahead and he was remanded in custody to make sure the interview happened.

Six days later, he was granted compassionate leave from prison to attend a funeral.

He did not attend the funeral but absconded and went on the run until January 9.

He then explained that he had been threatened by other inmates and told that if he did not come back to prison with contraband hidden inside his body, he would get a beating.

The judge remanded him in custody but he was released on bail two weeks later to get an address for home detention and to get his restricted licence sorted.

The sentencing could not go ahead on March 10, to give him still more time to sort his address and his licence.

On May 24, he was arrested yet again for driving outside the limits of his licence.

He turned up on Friday for yet another attempt at sentencing, but still nothing had been done. His latest pre-sentence report recommended imprisonment.

Judge Gilbert, his patience exhausted, told Graham: “The potential plans I had for you have been thwarted in every way. I have given you every opportunity to sort things out, but you don’t seem to follow through. I was trying to give you a way out.”

He imposed jail terms totalling seven months, and a year’s disqualification from driving.


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