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Taranaki repeat offender jailed for drink driving three times in three months

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Ian Arthur Lehndorf now has 13 drink-driving convictions on his record. Photo / Stock Image 123rf

A 71-year-old has been jailed for at least his 100th term of imprisonment after he was caught driving drunk two days in a row and then again three months later.

Repeat drink driver Ian Arthur Lehndorf, who has also accumulated multiple convictions for fraud and was jailed for the 99th time in 2014, now has 13 drink-driving offences to his name.

His recent spate of offending began on the night of March 2 this year when he was located by police exiting his vehicle at his New Plymouth address with his keys still in hand.

He smelt of alcohol and admitted to officers he had been driving while intoxicated, New Plymouth District Court was told on Monday.

A complaint about his manner of driving led police to his home and a subsequent breath test returned a reading of 972 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

The legal limit is 250mcg and so Lehndorf, who was indefinitely disqualified from driving at the time, was charged with driving with excess breath alcohol third or subsequent and driving while disqualified in the aggravated form.

But Lehndorf failed to grasp the seriousness of the charges, as less than 24 hours later, police spotted him driving in Waitara.

Recognising him as a disqualified driver, he was pulled over and breath tested again.

This time Lehndorf returned a reading of 815mcgs but his explanation remained the same as the one he used the previous day – that he had been drinking at his friend’s house and was on his way home.

Ian Arthur Lehndorf appeared in New Plymouth District Court on Monday. Photo / Tara Shaskey
Ian Arthur Lehndorf appeared in New Plymouth District Court on Monday. Photo / Tara Shaskey

It was a case of deja vu for police and Lehndorf alike when three months later, on June 18, he was driving in Inglewood, and again spotted by officers.

He was pulled over and while he told police he had just nipped out to grab some milk, a breath test returned a reading of 821mcg.

In court, Lehndorf appeared via audio-visual link from prison custody on three charges of driving with excess breath alcohol third or subsequent, and three charges of driving while disqualified third or subsequent.

A police summary of facts stated that between 1983 and 2014, Lehndorf had been convicted 10 times for driving while drunk and had 16 prior convictions for driving while disqualified.

In 2014, Stuff reported he was jailed in January that year for 16 months on charges of drink driving and disqualified driving.

That marked his 99th term of imprisonment, the report detailed, with the majority of his jail sentences being for fraudulent offending.

At the sentencing for his latest offending, defence lawyer Jo Woodcock said Lehndorf accepted he would be locked up once again.

“We’re back here again – in a place where he hasn’t been for a wee while.”

But she asked that when Judge David Smith determined the length he take into account that Lehndorf suffered from a disease, that being alcoholism, which he has battled for a significant portion of his life.

“It causes him a great deal of embarrassment and at times I think that prevents him from reaching out for help.”

Lehndorf, who Woodcock said was a single father who had raised three successful children, had been in custody since he was last caught behind the wheel and was now in a “good headspace” due to him not being able to drink since his remand.

“He’s incredibly disappointed in himself and the impact on his community and his family,” she said.

But Judge Smith questioned Lehndorf’s remorse.

“Whilst you may be full of remorse it doesn’t really make much difference to the outcome because your behaviour doesn’t demonstrate it by your continuing to drive while over the limit,” he said.

Lehndorf’s history of drink driving, which ranged from levels of 752mcg to 1037mcg, was concerning, Judge Smith said.

“You are clearly an alcoholic and have this disease which you are obviously not fighting successfully.”

On all six charges, Lehndorf was sentenced to 22 months and two weeks’ imprisonment and further disqualified from driving.

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