Licence lost after house fire
A COOLOOLA Cove woman whose home burnt down in February pleaded guilty to obstructing and assaulting police on that day, but said she acted hysterical and crazy because her whole world had been turned upside down.
Sharon Joy Spriggs, 54, was in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday to face a number of charges that included two counts of failing to provide a breath specimen.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said Tin Can Bay police officers who attended the scene of the fire saw Spriggs driving past and believed her to be intoxicated when speaking with her.
Spriggs told the court she woke on the afternoon of February 8 to see flames and smoke in her liveable shed on Golden Hind Avenue. She escaped with literally just the shirt on her back.
“I was in shock. I couldn’t get anything... all I could think of was getting to safety and my car was right next to the shed so I drove it away,” she said.
The court heard Spriggs drove to her neighbours house however, police at the scene of the fire said they saw her car coming from the opposite direction past her property before pulling into the neighbours residence.
When police tried to talk to her she was unco-operative and the owner of the house said he had found her hiding under a bed with a bottle of alcohol. Officers said they handcuffed Spriggs because of her erratic behaviour but she told the court none of it would have happened if the fire didn’t start.
“My place burned down and I was disturbed. I only got in my car for my own safety... I had no phone, no clothes. When I walked out and the police were there... I was hysterical and crazy,” she said.
Snr Const Manns told the court Spriggs appeared at the back door of her neighbour’s house in her underwear and a button-up blouse. She resisted arrest and had to be forced into the police car while yelling threats and abuse.
“Whilst at the police station (Spriggs) pointed her finger at an officer and jabbed him in the face,” she said in regard to Spriggs being charged with assaulting a police officer.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin was sympathetic to Spriggs situation and took into account Spriggs’ unblemished history and the circumstances of the night in sentencing.
“I don’t know how to say to a person, whose home was on fire, not to get in the car and drive with alcohol onboard. But at the end of the day I have to send a clear message that drink driving will not be tolerated,” she said.
“Had you simply taken the breath test you would have lost your licence and that would’ve been the end of it.”
For failing to provide a specimen of breath twice, Spriggs was disqualified from driving for 12 months and for one count of assault and four counts of obstruct police, she was placed on probation for 12 months with the condition she not consume any alcohol during that time.
Spriggs was also disqualified from driving for another two years because she drove on February 12 while her licence was suspended due to her being charged with UIL for failing to provide a breath specimen.