10-time drink-driver’s appeal against sentence denied

A High Court judge has called a 10-time drink-driver’s behaviour "extremely serious and troubling" while denying the man’s appeal.

Antony Mark Burdon (46), who was jailed for 18 months and banned from driving for 20 months by the Dunedin District Court, challenged the decision in the High Court last year.

His counsel John Westgate argued the sentence was manifestly excessive, principally because Judge Dominic Flatley only afforded the defendant a 10% discount for his early guilty plea.

The court can cut a defendant’s sentence by up to 25% in some circumstances for that factor.

"The appellant was co-operative and took steps to get help for his drinking problem. He took responsibility for his offending, and expressed remorse," Mr Westgate said.

But Crown prosecutor Richard Smith said the District Court judge was justifiably sceptical about Burdon’s remorse.

Judge Flatley had noted that the man had continued to offend despite the benefit of rehabilitative programmes when in prison.

Mr Smith said there was nothing exceptional about the appellant’s remorse and his rehabilitative steps were in their infancy.

Burdon had been caught by police on the morning of May 27 when he was stopped in Waikouaiti after being clocked doing 114kmh.

When breathalysed, he returned a reading of 631mcg — more than twice the legal limit.

The court heard Burdon had finished work the previous evening and driven to a friend’s house in Palmerston for a drinking session.

He was unexpectedly forced to leave the house early the following day, his counsel said.

Justice Nicholas Davidson agreed with the suggestion that Burdon could have received a greater discount for his early guilty plea. However, that would not change the outcome, he ruled.

"This is the appellant’s 10th conviction for driving with excess breath-alcohol, dating back to 1989. The prolonged and patterned offending poses a grave risk to the public, and shows a complete disregard for the law," Justice Davidson said.

"I conclude that the offending is so serious that the end sentence cannot be described as manifestly excessive. It is the end sentence with which the court is concerned on appeal ... This is extremely serious and troubling offending, to the court, and the community."

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