Queenstown drink-driver gets community work

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A Dalefield man who lost his sister in a tragic road accident has appeared in court for drink-driving and careless driving.

Grocery assistant James Lachlan Law, 20, was yesterday sentenced to 350 hours’ community work and disqualified from driving for 10 months in Queenstown District Court.

The court heard that Law had been drinking at home on April 29 when at 1.40am he decided to head into town in his father’s car. He was travelling at speed along Gorge Road when he lost control of the vehicle, veering to the left side of the road and striking a dirt bank front-on.

“This caused the car to be forced out backwards on to the road where it travelled backwards approximately 20 metres, crossing over the centre line and coming to rest facing the opposite direction on the shoulder of the road. The vehicle sustained major damage,” prosecuting sergeant Ian Collin told the court.

Law was taken to Lakes District Hospital where blood was taken for analysis. A reading – 152 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – showed he had been driving with almost twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

Law’s lawyer Phena Byrne suggested a sentence of supervision, given that Law has a drink-driving conviction from 2009.

“This young man accepts he has an issue with alcohol which was considerably exacerbated when he lost a family member…he’s been grappling with that since.”

Law’s sixteen-year-old sister Jessica died on New Year’s Day, 2010, when she was travelling as a backseat passenger in a car driven by one of her friends Josephine Clay, who had just got her learner’s licence.

Josephine, 16, had swapped places with driver Jesse Boulay to get behind the wheel on Littles Road, near Arthurs Point. Just minutes from the Law family home, Josephine’s speeding and careless driving had caused the trio’s car to collide with another vehicle.

Byrne says Law accepts he had problems with alcohol before the tragedy. “He wants to take responsibility for his actions.”

A pre-sentence report concluded that Law did not need supervision for an alcohol problem.

Judge Michael Turner told Law: “You are not seen as needing supervision but you do need to think about your drinking because you’re on a one-way course to imprisonment if you keep this up.”

Law was also ordered to pay $173 for medical tests and blood analysis and $132 in court costs.