Cop didn't report crash

Despite downing six beers and three shots of whisky after running a half marathon, a police sergeant thought he was OK to drive.

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 tested.

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 prove."

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 tired.

- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ and Lee Scanlon of Westport News

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