George Carrington in court on Tuesday. PHOTO/STAFF REPORTER

Judge opts not to jail
Five times over limit

A 42-year-old Carterton farmer escaped imprisonment for his seventh drink driving charge when he appeared for sentencing in the Masterton District Court on Tuesday.

George Howard Timothy Carrington, of Te Wharau, pleaded guilty and was convicted on a charge of excess breath alcohol with a reading of 1400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, in June.

The legal breath alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 and over is 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

Defence lawyer Virginia Pearson said the drinking had been prompted by several factors including the anniversary of a close friend’s death, difficult work circumstances, and the end of a two-year relationship.

She accepted it was a “very high reading” and he had since started attending counselling for his alcoholism.

Pearson argued for a sentence of community detention rather than imprisonment so that Carrington could continue working. This would help with his rehabilitation.

“It’s still a deterrent but it also focuses on providing an opportunity for those proactive features to be recognised,” she said. “It’s vital for his rehabilitation and his life.”

Judge Denys Barry acknowledged this but said rehabilitation must be weighed against deterrence, particularly with Carrington’s history.

He had six previous drink driving charges from 1994, 1995, 1999, 2007, February 2015, and July 2015 – when he served a sentence of three months in prison.

“He is a longstanding, chronic alcoholic,” Judge Barry said.

“It’s one thing for a person to drink themselves to the point where their own health is jeopardised, and another to put the safety of others at risk.”

He said the appropriate starting point would be nine months in prison, but he applied a 25 per cent discount for Carrington’s early guilty plea and further deductions for his proactive treatment steps.

He sentenced Carrington to three months home detention at a Martinborough property, and disqualified him from driving for 28 days. After that, he could apply for an alcohol interlock licence.