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Disastrous driving


‘Inexplicable’ behaviour on the region’s roads
Truckie not used to driving ‘powerful vehicle’

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A succession of dangerous drivers filled Masterton District Court on Monday, providing an insight into the bad behaviour occurring on Wairarapa roads.

One Wairarapa man was clocked driving 180kmh, another 46-year-old man caused a New Year’s spectacle with a loud and smoky burn-out around the entire Martinborough Square.

A third man found himself literally face to face with a policeman after another burnout attempt.

Also among the 28 driving offences on the court list was a Masterton woman facing charges of driving drunk causing the death of an eight-year-old girl, as well as drunk driving causing injury. The 35-year-old will plead after a sentencing indication scheduled for later this year.

John Carl Whitby pleaded guilty to a charge of operating a vehicle causing sustained loss of traction.

It was 1am on New Year’s Day when he placed his Toyota Highace van into first gear, “floored the acceleration” and did a 350m burnout around Martinborough Square.

It took 150 seconds and corroded the tar seal in places.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Tom Andrews produced photographs of the thick, unbroken black tyre marks, which remain extremely visible, and expressed his disapproval to Judge Barbara Morris.

“A man of his age really should’ve known better.”

Andrews said Whitby had displayed “truly atrocious and antisocial” behaviour.

The judge said it was lucky no one was hurt, considering from 30 to 40 people were in close proximity at the time, celebrating New Year’s at a bar.

A witness told police the burnout was loud and caused “intense smoke”.

Duty lawyer JP Delamere said Whitby “didn’t make any excuses for his behaviour” but had indicated that six other vehicles “were doing the same thing on the night”.

The Martinborough builder was “quite embarrassed” to be before the court.

Judge Morris said Whitby’s actions were “inexplicable at age 46”.

He was convicted and fined $600, ordered to pay court costs of $130, and disqualified from driving for seven months.

Also appearing on a charge of using a vehicle causing sustained loss of traction was Caleb Anthony Earle Whanau-Ashcroft, who pleaded guilty.

On December 28, the 26-year-old put petrol into the Ford Falcon he was driving at the BP on the intersection of Chapel and Renall Sts, Masterton.

“The defendant revved his engine two or three times and then accelerated hard as he turned left, moving from the BP forecourt out on to Chapel St,” the police summary said.

It went on to describe how Whanau-Ashcroft continued to “accelerate hard” which caused the car to lose traction and skid out to the right,

“As he passed the end of the raised median island the vehicle was travelling at about 45 degrees to the roadway.”

The car moved into the painted centre strip and almost went into the oncoming lane.

“Continuing to accelerate hard the driver then turned the front wheels to the right causing the rear of the car to continue skidding and now swing back to the left out to about 35 degrees in the opposite direction.

“The defendant, in the driver’s seat, was now facing directly toward an on-coming police patrol vehicle and immediately stopped accelerating.”

Defence lawyer James Elliott said Whanau-Ashcroft told him he was not accustomed to the “powerful vehicle” he was driving at the time of the offence.

Judge Morris said the fact that he was a professional truck driver made matters worse.

The Masterton man was fined $400, ordered to pay court costs, and disqualified from driving for six months.

Joshua Tyler Campbell, 25, was clocked driving 180kmh, while disqualified, in a 100kmh speed zone on January 1.

It happened at 6pm on Matarawa Rd, in rural Carterton.

Sergeant Andrews said Campbell had a bad track record for his driving and posed a risk to the public.

Judge Morris said after 20 years in the job she had heard her fair share of tragic traffic stories, and people should not overestimate their driving skills, especially at age 25.

She took into account Campbell’s “huge number” of driving convictions and sentenced him to 80 hours community work.

He was disqualified from driving for eight months, starting in April, when his current disqualification order expires.

Another seven defendants were before the court for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, with four of the defendants facing the charge for the third or subsequent time.

Charges of dangerous driving, careless driving, careless use of a vehicle causing injury, and driving while disqualified for at least the third time were also among charges on Monday’s court list.

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