Families ripped apart by drunk driver six times legal limit

TINA Clarke had no idea that less than a year after moving from Mackay to Brisbane her world would be torn apart and filled with daily sorrow.

Her son, Bobby Lee Hobbs, 20, was killed instantly in a horror crash on January 24 last year on Pumicestone Rd at Caboolture after a drink driver ploughed into the small Hyundai hatch he was a passenger in.

Mr Hobbs's cousin, Chris Ronald Barker, 26, who was the driver of the Hyundai, was left with lifelong injuries and has been confined to a wheelchair as a result of injuries received in the crash.

Mr Barker, who now requires around-the-clock care, remains in hospital more than a year after the deadly crash and has only just learnt how to blink and smile.

Bribie Island man Craig Edward Jones, 44, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Brisbane District Court to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing Mr Hobbs's death and the grievous bodily harm of Mr Barker.

Mackay mother Tina Clarke hold a picture of her son Bobby Lee Hobbs, 20.
Mackay mother Tina Clarke hold a picture of her son Bobby Lee Hobbs, 20.

The court heard Jones had five previous drink driving convictions and a medical expert put his intoxication at the time of the crash as being between 0.256 and 0.320 - but he said that was a conservative figure.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Farden told the court an analysis of Jones's blood three hours after the crash revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.219 as well as traces of prescription medications.

She said after Jones's last drink driving conviction in 2012 he was ordered to fit an interlocking device to his vehicle, but at the time of the crash his new Toyota Hilux was not fitted with one.

"Mr Hobbs was killed instantly and Mr Barker had to be resuscitated several times at the scene before being airlifted to hospital," she said.

"The licence plate from Jones's Hilux was imprinted on the Hyundai's dashboard, such was the impact of the crash."

Chris Ronald Barker, 26,was left in a wheelchair for life and can only blink his eyes after being in a crash at Caboolture on January 24, 2014. The crash killed his cousin Bobby Lee Hobbs, 20, was killed instantly.
Chris Ronald Barker, 26,was left in a wheelchair for life and can only blink his eyes after being in a crash at Caboolture on January 24, 2014. The crash killed his cousin Bobby Lee Hobbs, 20, was killed instantly.

Mr Barker's father, Allan Barker, read an emotional victim impact statement to the court where he described how Jones's actions have had a devastating affect on two families.

He said he felt compelled to read the statement because through Jones's actions his son no longer could.

"I cannot, and will never be able to, come to terms with what you did," he said.

"I will never get to hear my son speak again, he will never get the chance to become a father, never have the opportunity to walk, talk or eat unassisted and I will never become a grandfather.

"But now through my son's eyes I gain my strength."

Defence barrister Colin Reid said there was no excuse for Jones's actions but said it was not a case of deliberate and reckless driving.

Judge Stuart Durwood, in sentencing Jones to eight years behind bars, said the only positive thing that could be said in his favour was the fact he pleaded guilty.

"You have robbed two young men of their futures," he said.

"There is nothing I can do in sentencing you that will ease the pain and suffering of these two families.

"Both families have had to endure a shocking experience and that continues on a daily basis."

Jones will be eligible to apply for parole on November 18, 2017.


- APN NEWSDESK.



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