Despite downing six beers and three shots of whisky after
running a half marathon, a police sergeant thought he was OK
But on the evening on February 8, Matthew Charles Frost lost
control on a 65km/h bend on State Highway 6 near Punakaiki on
the West Coast of the South Island. His vehicle left the road
and damaged a fence.
Frost didn't report the crash straight away and the delayed
until he was spoken to by police meant he couldn't be breath
Earlier this week in the Auckland District Court he admitted
a charge of careless driving and today in the same court duty
lawyer Lincoln Burns asked Community Magistrate Janet Holmes
to consider a discharge without conviction.
The magistrate indicated a further hearing was likely, but
put the matter off until this afternoon so police could
consider their position.
On the morning of February 8, Frost ran the Buller half
marathon. A police summary of facts said that from lunchtime,
Frost consumed six beers, three shots of whisky and food over
six hours. He said he felt OK to drive.
After the crash, which happened about 7.30pm, Frost flagged
down a ride to Greymouth with a passing truck driver and made
no effort to tell police about the crash.
When he was spoken later he admitted he was going a bit fast,
the summary said.
West Coast police commander Inspector John Canning, speaking
later, confirmed Frost had avoided them after the crash.
"He was not breath-tested because we could not locate him for
two days," Mr Canning said.
"But we all know it's not illegal to drink and drive, it's
illegal to be over the limit and that's something we couldn't
Police had learned of the crash from others.
"He didn't report it at all, we actually caught up with him,
he actively avoided us, basically. We did leave messages and
things like that."
Frost has said he was in Auckland this week to visit family.
Mr Canning confirmed people facing charges usually appeared
in the court in the area where an alleged offence occurred.
He said he would have expected Frost's case to be dealt with
on the West Coast.
However, he said anyone pleading guilty could seek a transfer
to another court. Frost could also have pleaded guilty by
letter, but had chosen to appear in person, Mr Canning said.
Frost was not stood down after the crash. Mr Canning said an
internal employment investigation was ongoing. It would
decide whether Frost's conduct was appropriate for a police
officer and whether any misconduct was serious.
"Serious misconduct can lead to dismissal. Misconduct there's
a whole load of sanctions below that."
The outcome of the investigation would not be made public.
Frost has been a police officer for 27 years. He moved to
Westport from West Auckland in 2007 and transferred to
Greymouth about three years later.
Mr Burns told the court of Frost's experience in the force.
"He's had to suffer the indignity of an enormous amount of
publicity in relation to this matter."
Frost had a previously clean driving record and was in court
because of a "moment's inattention" when he was feeling
- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ and Lee Scanlon of Westport