We do indeed despair, when we read stories such as this one on Stuff this morning - read on:
A mother heavily pregnant when arrested on her eighth drink-driving offence was ordered to the cells to sober up after she turned up drunk to court.
Rachael Brown appeared in Rotorua District Court yesterday to be sentenced for drink-driving and driving while disqualified last July.
It was her eighth drink-driving conviction and 15th conviction for driving while disqualified.
Brown, 38, of Rotorua, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and jeans, and smelling strongly of alcohol, walked to the dock grinning at supporters in the public gallery.
A warrant for her arrest had been issued earlier in the morning after she failed to appear in court when called. Her lawyer, Brent Cooper, eventually tracked her down after an adjournment.
Barely able to stand in the dock, Brown turned her back on the bench and tried to cover her face from photographers. She had been seen earlier outside the court drinking cask wine with a friend.
Clearly frustrated by the delay, Judge James Weir told Brown she was too intoxicated to be sentenced. "I'm not prepared to sentence you as you appear to be intoxicated. I'm remanding you in custody overnight to sober up."
"How do you know I'm intoxicated?" she replied.
We suggest that Judge Weir would have had a pretty good idea about Brown's sobriety (or the lack thereof) - she certainly wasn't as sober as a judge! But here comes the clincher (our emphasis added):
In July last year, Brown was arrested for indicating right then turning left as she tried to avoid a checkpoint on Edmund Rd, Rotorua. She recorded a breath alcohol reading of 994 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit.
She was seven months pregnant at the time and the baby, now seven months' old, lives with another family member. Two passengers were in the car.
Brown told police she had driven because "she was the least pissed" of the group. She has three other children aged 19, nine and eight.
She was due to be sentenced in March, but was remanded on bail to care for her two youngest children, and her partners' children, while he served a jail sentence. Judge Chris McGuire told Brown she would have been remanded in custody if she did not have to care for her children.
And therein lies the dilemma for this government, or for that matter, for any government. How DO you deal with a sector of society which has no respect for the law, no fear of consequences, and no desire or incentive to change its ways? And that doesn't even begin to address the potential for this woman's child to have been born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. We don't even dare think how many more Rachael Brown's there are out there, even in our own community, nor can we pretend to have answers - only more questions.
UPDATE: The Herald reports that Rachael Brown, serial drink-driver was today sentenced to one year in jail, of which she will have to serve at least six months. Does anyone else reckon that we haven't heard the last of Ms Brown?