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Jacob Richard Medary (39) was nearly six times the drink-drive limit when police found him.
He appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to drink-driving, dangerous driving and refusing to accompany a police officer without delay.
At his previous court date a judge noted that on his way to court he had seen a piece of Medary’s art hanging in the window of a local gallery.
The defendant’s style is described online as "abstract realist" and his preferred medium is acrylic paint on fine-grade stretched canvas.
"His work has an international following with pieces being sent over to clients in Europe, but have also found numerous homes throughout New Zealand too," one website said.
On April 14 though, Medary had put the paints down and picked up the bottle.
He drove from Queenstown to Arrowtown in an unwarranted and unlicensed Mazda, hitting high speeds on the challenging route.
At Arthur’s Point, Medary accelerated round a corner and strayed completely into the wrong lane, causing an oncoming vehicle to brake hard and pull into a driveway to avoid collision.
The motorist estimated the defendant’s speed to be 120kmh.
"It looked as though it was beyond its level of grip on the road," the witness told police.
The driver pulled a U-turn and followed Medary as his speed varied wildly between 50kmh and 100kmh and he crossed the centre line four times.
After narrowly missing a lamp-post, the defendant stopped in Ramshaw Lane in Arrowtown and "stumbled" into the New Orleans Hotel.
The witness followed, while on the phone to police, and found Medary at the bar with a beer.
Management at the pub were informed and confiscated the driver’s keys.
Medary, though, said he was not going to wait around for the police.He staggered off to Bedford St, where police later found him "lying on the grass verge in the foetal position".
As the defendant struggled to stand, he refused to give a breath test and was taken to the station, abusing officers along the way.
A blood sample later taken gave a reading of 294mg — the legal limit is 50mg.
When police searched Medary’s car, they found an empty vodka bottle in the centre console, the court heard.
"You were lucky to be still breathing, let alone avoiding an accident," Judge Kevin Phillips said.
Defence counsel Cate Andersen called it "a bender" but said her client had since been sober and attended counselling.
Medary had done two previous stints at residential rehabilitation, the judge said.He sentenced him to 18 months’ intensive supervision with another mandatory stay at a facility.
Medary was also ordered to do four months’ community detention and 160 hours’ community work and was banned from driving for a year.
"He deserves to go to prison," Judge Phillips said.