Ordered to make reparations after taxi incident

A taxi ride from the Octagon to McDonalds would ordinarily set you back no more than $10, but the quick trip cost a Dunedin nurse $1500.

Rikki Jean Ripeka Rowland (37) had been out drinking with a friend on the evening of July 5.

They opted to take a taxi rather than make the 450m stroll down George St.

Though Rowland was not in the vehicle for long, it was long enough for her to vomit inside.

"That would have been bad enough," Judge Kevin Phillips told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

But it got worse.

The cab driver told the pair to get out and used the torch on his phone to point out the pile of vomit.

Rowland grabbed the phone from his hand and walked off, smashing it on the road.

"There was extensive damage to the phone rendering it unusable," a summary of facts said.

The court heard the phone was worth $1249, while cleaning out the taxi cost $250.The soilage fee surprised Judge Phillips.

"That’s a cheap job," he said.

"I wouldn’t have [cleaned] it for that amount."

Defence counsel Val Farrow said the incident came during a period of intense personal anguish for her client.

However, she stressed Rowland had the support of her colleagues at Wakari hospital, one of whom was in court to support her.

"She is certainly very embarrassed," Ms Farrow said.

The judge said the only way he could rationalise the drunken debacle was that it had been a way of relieving the stress the defendant was facing at the time.

He still condemned Rowland’s actions.

"Her behaviour here was nothing short of appalling," he said.

In the defendant’s favour were letters of support from a lawyer, doctor, counsellor and charge nurse.Rowland was clearly held in high regard, Judge Phillips said.

He refused the Otago Daily Times’ application to photograph her because nurses of her calibre were in short supply, he said.

The judge convicted Rowland and ordered her to pay the reparation before she left court.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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