Driver who attacked police 'ashamed and disgusted'

A drink-driver in an unsafe vehicle kicked and spat at officers then damaged a police car after being arrested, a court has heard.

Robert William McRae (29) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday where he was sentenced to three months’ community detention (on a weekend curfew) and 12 months’ supervision.

He had previously pleaded guilty to drink-driving, wilful damage and two counts of assaulting police.

The court heard police were called to Portobello Rd after reports of McRae’s dangerous driving on November 25 last year.

Witnesses saw the man use a blocked-off lane to overtake other motorists while exceeding the 30kmh limit in an area where roadworks were taking place.

The real fireworks took place when the defendant was pulled over near Vauxhall and officers inspected his Honda.

They discovered one of the tyres was worn down to its metal belting.

Once McRae was informed he would not be driving away from the scene, he erupted, threatening to head-butt one of the constables.

After he failed a breath test, police tried to handcuff him.

McRae responded by kicking an officer in the stomach, causing him to stagger backwards into the roadway.

He took “a number of swings” at the two constables and a fight ensued.

Both of the victims sustained scratches before the defendant was finally subdued and restrained in handcuffs.

But his violent demeanour persisted.

While being escorted to the police car, McRae spat in the eye of one of the officers, and when he was bundled into the back of the vehicle he lay down and kicked at the rear passenger window.

The frame was bent so badly the door could not be closed, the court heard.

An evidential test later found McRae had a breath-alcohol level of 676mcg, nearly three times the legal limit.

The victim who was spat at required a blood test after the incident, which confirmed he was disease-free six weeks later.

Counsel Ann Leonard said her client was “ashamed and disgusted” by his behaviour and had written a letter of apology to the officers concerned.

She told the court McRae had just lost his job because of Covid-19 when the incident took place and had been increasingly using alcohol as a crutch to cope with the grief that came from several losses in his life.

Things, however, had since improved.

Ms Leonard said McRae was now on an arborist course and working part-time as a groundsman.

Along with the sentence, he was also banned from driving for eight months.



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter