Woman in court after sex act caused driver to crash

Lela Josephs wasn't the driver of the car that crashed through a fence, but her actions at the...
Lela Josephs wasn't the driver of the car that crashed through a fence, but her actions at the time contributed to the crash, the Whanganui District Court heard. Photo: Bevan Conley
Lela Jane Josephs may not have been driving a car that crashed, but performing a sex act on the driver landed her in court.

The 34-year-old appeared in the Whanganui District Court on Wednesday for sentencing before Judge Andrew Nicholls on charges of dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.

In a twist, Josephs was charged with dangerous driving despite the fact she was not driving the vehicle. However, the fact the car crashed after she began performing a sex act on the driver landed her the charge.

Josephs had previously admitted both charges. Two others - driving while disqualified and drink driving - were withdrawn.

The charges were laid after a car crash on Kauangaroa Rd, Fordell, just before midnight on June 27, 2021, when Josephs was the front seat passenger in a car driven by Andre Teka, the summary of facts states.

"She began to perform oral sex on Teka which caused him to lose control of the vehicle and crash through a farm fence."

After Teka fled the scene, residents contacted police about an intoxicated woman who had arrived at their home asking for help in an abusive manner.

When police arrived Josephs, who appeared extremely intoxicated, was on the main road and was the suspected driver.

Josephs was arrested and underwent an evidential breath test which showed she had 786 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit to drive is 250mcg.

However, Josephs denied she was driving the car and gave police a false name.

On July 20, 2021 Josephs appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Days later her lawyer contacted police to confirm Josephs continued to deny being the driver and provided another name of who was behind the wheel.

The details again proved false but on October 8, her lawyer again contacted police and this time provided Teka's name as the offender.

Teka later admitted he was driving the vehicle when it crashed.

Defence lawyer Blair Piper sought a sentence of intensive supervision, reparation for the fence and disqualification from driving, which was punitive as Josephs was not driving.

Crown prosecutor Jack Liu said while Josephs' previous convictions were not extensive, it was concerning she didn't co-operate with police.

Judge Nicholls acknowledged Josephs was not the driver but said her actions played a part.

"You contributed to him losing control of the car and crashing through a farm fence."

He said the lead charge was perverting the course of justice which carried a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Judge Nicholls decided an appropriate sentencing starting point was six months' imprisonment but then gave Josephs a 25 per cent discount for her guilty pleas, reducing it to three and a half months jail.

He then converted it to a community based sentence of 40 hours community work and 12 months intensive supervision.

Josephs was disqualified from driving for six months, fined $750 and ordered to pay $162.50 reparation for the fence, on the charge of dangerous driving which was the same as Teka received.

 - Leighton Keith, Open Justice reporter