The man who left his 1-year-old daughter alone in a car while he drank at a pub has been sentenced to eight months' home detention for his seventh drink-driving conviction.
Richard James Fletcher, 39, a sickness beneficiary, appeared for sentence in the Masterton District Court yesterday.
He had pleaded guilty to two charges of leaving children under the age of 14 with no supervision and another of having a breath alcohol level of 968mcg, more than twice the legal limit.
It was his seventh conviction for drink driving.
Fletcher received the home detention sentence for the drink-driving offence, and was convicted and discharged, with court costs of $132.89, on each of the other charges. The charges are only punishable by fines.
He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months from the end of his home detention.
Special conditions attached to his home detention included attending an alcohol and drug programme, and a parenting programme, as directed by a probation officer.
Fletcher had earlier pleaded guilty to leaving the baby in the car after he drove drunk to the Kuripuni Tavern on March 17, leaving his former partner's other two children, aged 10 and 11, home alone.
His lawyer, Michael Bott, told Judge Anthony Walsh, that if he sent Fletcher to prison the benefits of the alcohol and drug counselling he had already completed would be lost.
Fletcher had been dry since his arrest and wanted to be a good father, Mr Bott said.
He had also been diagnosed as being clinically depressed and was now on medication for that, Mr Bott said.
Judge Walsh told the court it concerned him that in every one of Fletcher's drink-driving convictions he was at least twice the legal limit.
Fletcher had a long history of alcohol abuse, the judge said, and the time had come to address that. "This type of offending must be denounced," Judge Walsh said.
"I'm giving you a final chance to deal with your alcohol issues," he told Fletcher.
"There's no point in putting your head in the sand."
If Fletcher came back before the court for similar offending, then prison was inevitable, the judge said.
He hoped Fletcher would use the motivation of wanting to be a good parent to deal with his issues with alcohol.
Child Youth and Family central regional director Tania Harris said Fletcher was not living in the same house as the children involved in the case.
"All of the children remain safe and well in the care of their mother," she said.
"We have worked with the family to ensure they have the support they need," she said.