Computer hotshot 'injects drugs, drives'

A computer hotshot hit "rock bottom" after a dangerous drugged-driving incident, a court has heard.

Ramon Smith (33) was heading into Dunedin from his home in Port Chalmers on April 20 at 12.30pm.

He was dawdling  at 10kmh and struggling to stay in his lane, the court heard.

Smith — who has a computer science degree and held "quite prestigious jobs" — approached a road worker who was holding a stop sign but continued regardless.

Driving at low speed, he veered over the centre line several times and "on one occasion he narrowly missed a large oncoming truck by centimetres", a police summary said.

The incident ended only when concerned motorists called police and one who followed the defendant closely had their passenger jump out and run alongside Smith’s car.

Initially the man signalled for the driver to pull over and when that did not work, he opened the door and was able to forcibly stop him.

When police arrived they found Smith in "a very incoherent state".

While speaking to him they noticed a small brown bottle with a white cap and a syringe containing clear liquid.

Tests later showed the substance was class-B GBL.

"All the indications were you injected some of this drug prior to driving," Judge John Macdonald said in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Court documents noted the drug slowed the body down and the common effects included feelings of euphoria, increased sex drive and lowered inhibitions.

GBL could also cause memory lapses, clumsiness, dizziness, headaches, nausea and diarrhoea, the court summary said.

Smith subsequently pleaded guilty to driving under the influence (for the third time) and possession of the drug.

Judge Macdonald said there were also offences from Auckland committed more than five months earlier: two counts of possessing class-B drugs, possessing class-C drugs, possession of a methamphetamine pipe and failing to assist police with a search.

Counsel Alex Bligh said her client had spent the past two months in custody reflecting on his behaviour.

Before his downward spiral, Smith had been the lead programmer for an Australian company developing apps for wind farms, she said.

"He’s at a crossroads in his life. He’s hit rock bottom and he needs help," she said.

The judge said he would have been justified in jailing Smith for a lengthy period but there was a place available at a residential rehabilitation facility in Christchurch.

He sentenced the defendant to 12 months’ intensive supervision and 18 months disqualification from driving.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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