One of the Bay of Plenty’s worst repeat drink-drivers has clocked up his 20th conviction.
Phillip Noble, 53, who appeared in the Tauranga District Court yesterday pleaded guilty to two driving charges – one charge each of drink driving and driving while disqualified.
He had 19 prior drink-driving convictions and eight previous convictions for driving while disqualified.
If he has 20 drink-driving convictions he has probably driven drunk a couple of thousand times as you get breath tested well under 1% of the times you drive.
His drink-driving offending began in 1981. From that time until October 2, 2006, Noble was caught 17 times.
His 18th and 19th drink-driving offences were committed in June 2011 and August 2016.
Noble was caught drink driving and driving while disqualified for the ninth time on April 4 this year, after police clocked him driving at 176 km/h on State Highway 1 in Tokoroa.
Driving drunk is bad enough. To be driving drunk at 180 km/hr is going to be lethal.
Lawyer Michael Toner urged Judge Christopher Harding to grant his client bail until sentencing, despite Noble’s two recent breaches of district court bail.
Toner said those failures to attend court were due to Noble’s decision to got out of town to visit his elderly mother, who was “very ill”.
Noble was keen to be sentenced immediately, he said.
But Judge Harding said he was not prepared to do so without a probation report and wanted to see if anything could be done to help Noble stop offending in this way.
The judge remanded Noble in custody for sentencing on July 31.
This is a good example of why reducing the prison population isn’t so easy.
Most people would agree that normally you should not go to prison for drink driving.
Most people would also agree that if someone is a repeat drink driver they should be given treatment for alcoholism and you do what you can to stop them reoffending.
But what do you do when it simply doesn’t work?
If you never ever send someone like Noble to prison, he will probably end up killing an innocent motorist or pedestrian. Public safety becomes paramount at some stage.