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Recidivist drink driver gets prison time

A former university academic with a long history of drink driving offences and “a high likelihood of reoffending” has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty this week to two charges incurred in September and December last year.

John Fraser from Carterton appeared for sentencing at Masterton District Court before Judge Barbara Morris on charges of driving with excess breath alcohol and driving contrary to the terms of a zero alcohol license.

On September 15, Fraser, who has four previous charges for drink driving between 2014 and 2020, was subject to a routine stop by police and found to be six times over the legal alcohol limit.

At his subsequent hearing in November, Fraser told the court he had stopped drinking and was taking the medication to treat alcohol use disorders.

Morris said as part of his bail conditions for that offence, Fraser was ordered not to drive a motor vehicle, was subject to “intensive supervision”, and instructed to “look into the issue of residential treatment”, which he didn’t pursue because he “didn’t wish to leave his wife”, Morris said.

While on bail, Fraser was stopped again on December 23, during which he recorded a breath test result of over five times the legal limit. He told police the reason he was driving was to get a milkshake.

“Despite the bail conditions, despite the zero alcohol licence, you had driven again,” Morris said.

During sentencing, Morris referred to reports which noted the risk of harm Fraser posed to others was “potentially inevitable, given the recidivism.”

She also noted Fraser had once again refused residential treatment and that his wife, a trained psychologist, had “indicated people were being hard” on him.

In determining the sentence, Morris said she took into account Fraser’s previous convictions and “the extraordinarily high [breath test] readings”, which came “at a very high risk to people’s lives”.

Police prosecutor Miranda Barton questioned the support Mr Fraser’s wife was able to provide and was circumspect about his commitment to rehabilitation.

“We believe he will continue to drive and find a way to drive,” she said.

Arguing for a community-based sentence, Fraser’s defence counsel Ian Hard said that “despite the grim readings in the reports” prison would do his client “no good”.

“He is at a crossroads,” Hard said.

“He has done the very best he can to help himself. If he can get his addiction under control, he’s not so old that he couldn’t resume some form of career.”

Hard told the court Fraser had been advised by Pathways addiction services he could start counselling as soon as he received his sentence and that he did not own any operable car.

In sentencing Fraser to 14 months in prison, Morris said: “I do everything I can to keep people out of prison where that serves the public need of reducing the risk of reoffending.

“The primary factor here is the protection of the public, and I consider, unfortunately, that imprisonment in its true form is what’s required.”

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