Drink-driver jailed for repeat offending

A man who worked for an organisation that ran courses “Empowering positive change” has begun his second jail term, for his sixth drink-driving conviction.

Sixty-five-year-old Gary Frederick Reid was jailed for four months in the Christchurch District Court by Judge Robert Murfitt after being caught on April 3 driving with 1115mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath.

The legal limit is 250mcg, and the limit that triggers prosecution at court is 400mcg.

Reid spent several years working for a Christchurch organisation that ran programmes teaching and advising people about making positive changes.

He pleaded guilty to the drink-driving charge and was remanded on bail for sentencing, while an address was assessed for a home detention term.

Defence counsel Kiran Paima said alcoholism had been a problem for Reid since the age of 15. He was now attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a day – 14 times a week – and was involved in counselling sessions fortnightly.

He urged that community detention be granted, but the address was assessed as unsuitable by Community Probation because it would mean three residents with “significant risk factors for alcohol” were living in the same household.

Mr Paima said Reid’s relapse in April, after three years of abstinence, had been triggered by the suicide of a friend. Around that time, Reid took to drinking a bottle of vodka a day, and had been admitted to hospital with vomiting and pain after drinking two bottles in one day.

He urged that community detention be allowed so that he could continue to attend AA, with confiscation of Reid’s $4500 car and a lengthy disqualification from driving.

Judge Murfitt noted that Reid had five previous drink-driving convictions and had already been jailed once. He last offended six years ago. When a previous sentencing had been delayed he was about to enter an eight-week outpatient treatment programme, but his attendance had been “patchy” and there had been serious relapses.

The judge said: “I believe the sentencing must proceed having regard to your history of drink-driving, the high level of alcohol, the risk to the public, and the need to hold you accountable.”

He imposed a four-month jail term, with six months of release conditions when Reid must undergo treatment for alcohol use as directed, and disqualification from driving for three years.

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