Kiri Allan pleads guilty on day trial was set to begin

By and is republished with permission

Former Labour justice minister Kiri Allan has now pleaded guilty to all charges she faced following a car crash in July last year.

She was charged in July with careless driving and refusing to accompany a police officer after she crashed into a parked car on Evans Bay Parade in Wellington.

Allan was also issued an infringement notice for driving with excess breath alcohol between 250 and 400mg.

She resigned from her ministerial portfolios and left politics.

She had previously pleaded guilty to careless driving but not guilty to refusing to accompany a police officer.

She was due to face a judge-alone trial at the Wellington District Court today.

Allan, a trained lawyer, earlier told the New Zealand Herald she wanted to test an apparent grey area in the law about the right to consult a lawyer.

She did not appear in court today after changing her plea.

Judge Brooke Gibson convicted her on the careless driving charge and fined her $300.

On the charge of refusing to accompany an officer she was convicted and discharged.

Allan has been ordered to pay $5296 for the damage done to the vehicle.

Summary of facts

The agreed summary of facts said Allan refused to accompany an officer after the crash. She said she wanted to speak a to a lawyer first.

The summary said she was warned several times and provided ample opportunity to accompany the officer.

She was also advised that a lawyer would be made available at a practical time, either in the police car on the roadside or back at the station. She continued to refuse and was arrested.

When asked by the judge if he accepted that, Allan’s lawyer Christopher Stevenson said “that is true”.

“And those facts won’t be traversed now. It’s a contextual and legal question which could have arisen. Was she necessary to get into the physical custody to make that call or could she just stand on the path side and make the call, but we don’t need to resolve that.”

He said Allan “doesn’t particularly press the court” on the appropriate outcome.

Stevenson said a conviction would be “unhelpful” in respect of the charge of refusing to accompany a police officer.

“She’s a young woman and it would be a permanent reputational mark on her record, and it might not fairly, one would think, reflect the circumstances of what happened here,” said Stevenson.

“One might say she was unlucky to be charged, given those circumstances, with the refusing.”

Stevenson said the Crown’s description of culpability being low was fair given what he called his client’s “fragile emotional state at the time”.

“This was not a situation of someone wantonly refusing to accompany, it was quite different from that,” said Stevenson

Judge’s comments

Judge Gibson said Allan had already suffered consequences and a conviction would not add to it.

“She may be embarrassed about having a conviction, but the facts of the matter are widely known.”

“I accept there have been significant consequences in terms of the impact. The accident and subsequent charges it has had on her career. She has left parliament”.

Kiri Allan opens up about days that led to her political downfall

He said the accident was “relatively serious” but no-one else was injured and was satisfied Allan will pay the reparations.

Allan had a previous conviction for driving with excess alcohol that was 20 years ago, but because of the lapse in time the judge did not take it into account.

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