Could this have been prevented?

February 5th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A judge has told a 42-year-old Nelson man with 41 previous driving convictions that it was only a matter of time before he injured or killed somebody.

Norman Mostyn Teece appeared in Nelson District Court for sentencing yesterday by Judge Tony Zohrab on a charge of dangerous driving causing death, and was sentenced to three years in prison. …

Judge Zohrab said a law change last year meant the maximum sentence he could impose had doubled from five to 10 years.

“It’s hard not to be sympathetic to the situation you find yourself in, but the sympathy is dulled or tempered because of your history.”

Teece had received 41 previous driving convictions in the period between 1986 and 2001, and since 2001 had had his driving licence suspended twice.

“You have a terrible prior history. You have placed members of the public in danger again and again.” Judge Zohrab said.

Judge Zohrab is right that it was only a matter of time before he killed someone. I think he is lucky to have got only three years jail. A case for manslaughter could be made, if you take into account his past history.

This got me thinking, is there any way different laws could have prevented this death, or minimised the chance of its happening.

I’d advocate two changes for such recidivist dangerous drivers.

The first is that after a certain number of offences, you face a lifetime ban from driving. I’m not sure how many offences that would be, but certainly less than 41.

I note even now he has only been suspended for five years, of which around half he will be in prison for anyway.

The second change is around penalties for driving while disqualified. We know certainty of being caught and certainty of sentence are deterrents. I would advocate that any driver who has been permanently disqualified from driving (I would hope we have less than 100 in total) is subject to pro-active checking by Police that they are not driving and that if they are caught driving while permanently disqualified they are automatically jailed with say a minimum three month sentence.

If they refuse to drive safely on the roads, then better they are in jail than they are allowed to carry on until they do kill someone, as did.

Tags: ,

19 Responses to “Could this have been prevented?”

  1. tvb (3,939 comments) says:

    I do not know what to do about people like this who have an appalling history of criminal driving short of either preventive detention or having laws that will be a huge burden to people who have a good driving record. It is much much easier for people to get access to cars and a handful are dangerous behind the wheel. I am stumped, but perhaps we could severely curb the freedoms of people who pose a serious threat to road safety.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    The judge:
    “It’s hard not to be sympathetic to the situation you find yourself in”

    Umm, it’s not that hard. I’m completely unsympathetic to the arsehole. These people aren’t poor unfortunate souls that humanity has abandoned, they’re nasty selfish and arrogant bastards who have been offered numerous chances and will never change. It’s a pity he didn’t kill himself in the crash.

    The fact it was only “a matter of time” would have been apparent, probably, after the 2nd or 3rd driving conviction. He should have been disqualified for life early on, and when inevitably caught driving while disqualified locked up each time – each new offence should have a longer sentence until the fucker either learns, or is kept confined in jail and off the roads.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    The first is that after a certain number of offences, you face a lifetime ban from driving.

    Or demerits to cater for different levels of offence.

    And rather than a lifetime ban I suggest making it an indefinite ban until you can prove you have changed enough to be considered safe enough. It allows for people overcoming factors like unaddressed alcoholism.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Anthony (736 comments) says:

    This again seems to come back to the criminal being the victim mentality that was discussed in detail a few days ago on here. We give criminals every chance to offend again and kill innocent people.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. BlueGriffon (204 comments) says:

    Laws are for the law abiding, the underclass don’t care about them. You can license drivers, license firearms, microchip dogs, register cars, have alcohol limits, impose speed limits etc…. but there is a feral underclass that don’t give a monkeys about any of them.

    They break laws over and over and over again, get fines wiped and then judges are sympathetic towards them.
    Harder judges may be a good start.

    Maybe we need council controlled local ‘county’ prisons where these people can be put away for 90 days or so.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Than (371 comments) says:

    While I’d be in favour of these changes, unfortunately I don’t think they’d help much. This guy is clearly happy to ignore the road laws when it suits him. A lifetime (or indefinite) ban from driving would just be one more added to the list. He’d get caught every couple of years; add another year or more for the legal process, he’d only be in jail for 3 months out of every 36.

    I think it would be more effective to tighten up vehicle sale and ownership laws – make it illegal to sell a car to somebody without a valid drivers licence. Vehicles are potentially very dangerous objects (more so than firearms) and they should be treated as such.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Michael (880 comments) says:

    Surely the technology exists to have a person wear a ankle bracelet that would alert any passing motor car that the driver is banned. Would only activate if traveling over a certain speed (like 30km/h) and would direct the police to the car so they can check who the driver is.

    Regardless, we wouldn’t tolerate a person who repeatedly got drunk and went round discharging a shotgun at random – but we seem to tolerate that type of behaviour if the weapon is a motor vehicle. Repeat drunk drivers may need help, but that doesn’t mean I should be exposed to the deadly consequences of their choices.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. tas (527 comments) says:

    41 previous convictions. Twice disqualified. Why was this ticking timebomb not defused?

    Who was the judge that gave him another slap on the wrist for conviction #41? He or she should be sacked and possibly put on trial if he or she didn’t use the maximum power of the law to prevent this fatality. The same goes for the judges that did next to nothing after conviction #40, #39, #38, #37 etc.

    In any case the system needs to change to deal with cases like this.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. eszett (2,268 comments) says:

    Surely the technology exists to have a person wear a ankle bracelet that would alert any passing motor car that the driver is banned. Would only activate if traveling over a certain speed (like 30km/h) and would direct the police to the car so they can check who the driver is.

    That would mean he can’t be a passenger in a car or use public transport.

    How about alcohol breath testers that don’t allow you to start your car if you fail them? For recidivist drunk drivers.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Michael (880 comments) says:

    @eszett – Hmmm, I did mean police car, not motor car. (My mistake) There would be no restriction on being a passenger or using public transport. The police officers would be able to see if the vehicle has more than one person and make a judgement to pull it over. If they were directed to a bus they wouldn’t even bother check it out.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. peterwn (2,935 comments) says:

    Anyone who meets the threshhold of a conviction for dangerous driving causing death also meets the threshhold for manslaughter.
    See S156 Crimes Act
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM329297.html?search=ts_act_crimes+act_resel&p=1#DLM329297

    If you do not fulfil this duty resulting in death it is manslaughter.

    Apparently the ‘Dangerous Driving Causing Death’ was introduced following the reluctance of some juries to convict for manslaughter.

    The police use a ‘points’ system with ‘points’ being allocated for aggravating factors in a ‘Dangerous Driving Causing Death’. If over so many points they lay a manslaughter charge.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    Cut their hands off for the second offence.

    Hard to start the wheels and steer it with your wrists.

    Sharia law has a few good points! :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    How does his past history raise a charge dangerous driving by failing to give way?

    Peter – s65 of the Land Transport Act provides for indefinate disqualification of repeat drink drivers.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. nasska (9,517 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    It’s nearly that good now. A few years ago a young bugger I knew got caught drink driving three times in five years. He was a shocker when he got a few on board & it was sheer luck that he never killed anyone. Offence three saw his license cancelled indefinitely…..”at the pleasure of the Secretary of Transport” was the wording from recollection.

    At this stage he realised that in Barry Crump’s immortal words, he was “a fully paid up member of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the space of a few years he’d lost his missus, kids, house & finally his job. Finally he got his shit together & gave up the grog.

    Then the fun started…he was a fully qualified plumber & drainlayer so he could get work but had to have a license. He had to apply to be considered for re application, he had to attend drug & alcohol counselling & had to make himself available to give a blood sample at any hour of the day or night for six months. One test was actually taken at his parents’ home at 11.30pm. At the end of this he had to do the full driving test same as he had at age 16.

    He’s still on top of things but if “His Honour” is having a bad day when you are getting sentenced for drink driving offences your life ain’t going to be easy.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    That’s “just a lovely story nasska” as Scotty would have said to Barry, but when you read the shit that passes for wise decisions by our so called judiciary these days you just want to sit down and cry really.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Steve (4,321 comments) says:

    41 previous?
    This person will never stop. The JUDGES will keep sucking up to keep the jails less crowded.
    More Jails and longer harder time (and pink underpants)
    That is where I want my TAXES to go

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    This bloke should be away for 10 years. If he cannot control himself then put him in a place where he is not going to harm anyone else.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. wreck1080 (3,522 comments) says:

    Just a few posts ago was a discussion about some guy who had 140 odd convictions.

    40 is good behaviour.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    Dangerous driving causing death should be a STRIKE offence.

    New Zealanders need to wake up to the idea that the right to use a car on the public roads comes with a responsibility to use it sensibly.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.