New Zealand Police v Woods [2020] NZDC 6614

Published 27 July 2020

Sentencing — dangerous driving — failing to stop — driving while forbidden — non-compliance with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions — failure to comply with Health Act — COVID-19 — global pandemic — coronavirus — educational warning — reporting of concern to Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) — well-being of children — urgent Family Group Conference — Health Act 1956 — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 15 & 19. The defendant appeared for sentence on charges of dangerous driving, failing to stop and driving while forbidden. On 14 February 2020 she had been driving a motor vehicle when she was seen by police who soon found out she was forbidden from driving. They activated their red a blue flashing lights and sirens in an attempt to pull her over but she failed to stop and drove at high speeds to avoid the police. The defendant was also to be sentenced on a charge of failing to comply with the Health Act. She had been driving around while Alert Level 4 COVID-19 regulations were in place, which required people to remain home except for essential travel in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Between 1 and 20 April she breached Ministry of Health regulations six times. She was given educational warning the first two times, a verbal warning the third time, a written warning the fourth time, and arrested and given a pre-charge warning on her fifth discovered breach. She then breached lockdown again the next day. For the driving charges the defendant was sentenced to two months' home detention. A further two months was imposed for the failure to comply with the Health Act, for an end sentence of four months' home detention. A pre-sentence report noted the defendant had four young children, three of whom were in her care. The Judge was concerned about these children and who had been caring for them as several of the defendant's breaches had occurred after midnight. A notice of concern was made to the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children). An urgent Family Group Conference was also to be held, as soon as practicable given the need to comply with Ministry of Health regulations in relation to COVID-19. Judgment Date: 21 April 2020.