Home detention for recidivist drink-driver

Raquel Kiwi, pictured at an earlier court appearance, has again been sentenced in the Tauranga District Court for drink-driving.

A woman who killed her seven-month-old son in an alcohol-fuelled crash and has previously been described as one of New Zealand’s worst recidivist drink-drivers has been caught behind the wheel again.

Raquel Haina Kiwi was back in court this week after blowing 746 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath after the person who was meant to drive wasn’t able to.

She was also caught driving while disqualified, failed to give her name and address, and breached her bail.

The 44-year-old now has more than 90 convictions of varying types, including 11 for drink-driving and a further nine for driving while disqualified. She has served several terms of imprisonment for some of these charges.

The most serious incident happened in 2004 when her drink-driving caused a crash on Tauranga’s Maungatapu Bridge that claimed the life of her baby son Jason and led to her being sent to prison.

It has been 14 years since her last drink-driving charge, but on Wednesday she was in Tauranga District Court where she was sentenced to six months’ home detention and a two-year disqualification from driving on the latest charges.

Publication of name ‘teaching moment for grandchildren’

Kiwi applied for permanent name suppression at the hearing, citing the gap in driving-related offending.

Through her lawyer, Michael Douglas, she said the re-publication of her name would cause shame and embarrassment for her and her grandchildren.

However, Judge Thomas Ingram said while he understood her feelings, having grandchildren of his own, there was a “cold hard reality” about the situation.

“Your name’s been published many times in the press,” he said.

“It’s one of the consequences of criminal offending, and you’ve done plenty of it over the years. It seems to me you should regard this as a teaching moment for your grandchildren, to keep them out of the life that you led for so long.”

Kiwi’s most recent sentence of imprisonment was in 2018, for defrauding Work and Income of nearly $27,000 in benefits.

At that time, Judge Ingram said home detention was “never” going to be appropriate .

“This is one of those rare cases where although the amount of benefit fraud was not substantial in relative terms, Ms Kiwi presents as someone, who has repeatedly been in trouble since she first came before the court in 1997.”

Judge says home detention appropriate after gap in drink-drive offending

For Kiwi’s most recent offending, Judge Ingram considered home detention appropriate given the 14-year lapse in drink-driving offending, and eight-year gap since the last instance of driving while disqualified.

“That’s not a bad effort for Ms Kiwi,” he said.

Douglas said his client had been doing her best to change her ways and stop offending.

He said she hadn’t intended to drive on the evening in question, in May 2023, but the person who’d been lined up to drive had become unavailable.

“She points out this is quite different to how she used to approach driving,” Douglas said.

He said Kiwi wasn’t excusing her decision to drive, but it did explain why she ended up behind the wheel.

Douglas said Kiwi has active involvement with the care of her grandchildren and is studying a certificate in business.

Judge Ingram took into account there had been no fault with the way she had been driving – she’d been caught with a high breath alcohol reading after a compulsory breath test.

He began with a starting point of 12 months’ imprisonment, which he uplifted to 16 months for the driving while disqualified charge, failing to give her name and address, and breach of bail.

He applied a discount for guilty pleas which brought it back to 12 months’ imprisonment, which was then commuted to a sentence of six months’ home detention. He also imposed a discrete driving disqualification of two years.

The last spate of drink-driving charges Kiwi faced in mid-2016 saw her sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment by Judge Louis Bidois.

At that time, police prosecutor David Pawson said Kiwi was considered by police to be one of the country’s worst recidivist drink-drivers.

Judge Bidois had stern words for her as he also imposed an indefinite disqualification from driving.

“[The death of your son] hasn’t deterred you. You have continued to drink and you have continued to drink and drive,” Judge Bidois said.

“You effectively should not be driving for the rest of your life.”



Not Learning

Posted on 11-07-2024 11:16 | By Yadick

Home detention and disqualification from driving is not in any way a sentence or deterrent for this woman.
The time between drink driving charges is not, I believe, a factor. What is, is this time she got caught (again). How many other times has she blatantly run the gauntlet putting the lives of innocent people at risk and by sheer good luck got away with it.
Her apathetic attitude needs to be seriously sorted out and home detention and disqualification from driving is not going to do it.
Watch this space, she will be back before the courts.

Toughen up mr magistrate

Posted on 11-07-2024 13:45 | By dave4u

I think Mr Luxon needs to advise NZ judges that when the cops catch them they need to start sentencing to fit the crime so as not to piss off the police, public and victim.

@ dave4u

Posted on 11-07-2024 15:45 | By Yadick

Good comment. Completely agree with you. There is literally little to no consequences for action. We've become over-the-top PC. Especially when a criminal suffers absurdly less consequence than a victim.

Drink and vehicles

Posted on 11-07-2024 17:48 | By peter pan

Why not a ban on drinking alcohol full stop. As the old Scots saying " when drinks in wits out" nothing is true`r

She is responsible..............

Posted on 11-07-2024 21:18 | By groutby

.......for killing....and has over 90 convictions....and is not 'inside' for a long, long time?....what the....unbelievable please get real Judge!....the public need to expect so much more of our judicial system...the police will feel vindicated for their hard work and it may well actually act as a deterrent to help reduce crime...let's give it a crack eh?....

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.