Judge blasts court filled with drink-drivers
A magistrate has blasted a courtroom filled with drink-drivers after eight cases came before him in one morning
He lashed out at one man who had "seven schooners" more than a motorist alleged to have killed four children.
At Sutherland Local Court in Sydney's south yesterday, Magistrate Peter Bugden spent the majority of his morning handing out disqualification after disqualification to a range of drink- and drug-drivers.
The courtroom next door was also filled with 20 cases, including many drink-driving offences.
But it was the case of 40-year-old Adam London that fired up Mr Bugden.
In sentencing, Mr Bugden said "everyone has been reading the news" about the alleged drink-driving crash that killed the Abdallah siblings Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13 and their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr in Oatlands.
In that case, Samuel William Davidson, 29, was allegedly three times the legal blood alcohol limit when his ute ran into the group of seven children.
Mr Bugden said London's reading was more severe.
"Your client had about seven schooners more under his belt than that man who (is alleged to have) killed four people, if my mathematics is correct," he said to London's lawyer.
He then turned his attention to London, who stood up for his sentence: "Fortunately you were stopped by the police and there was no accident."
The magistrate then asked London, who had completed a traffic offender's program, whether he knew how many people were killed on the roads in NSW each year.
"I can't remember," London responded.
"You can't remember? About 350," Mr Bugden said. "But what they don't tell you and what's not published very much is that around Australia each year about 3500 people go to the major trauma wards as a result of car accidents.
"These are people who spend the rest of their lives in wheelchairs, people with brain damage. Not all of them are because of drink-driving, but a significant number.
"That's why the penalties have doubled and doubled and doubled again to where they are now. But still people come before the court."
Police evidence tendered to court said London, of Woolooware, was driving east on Kingsway in Caringbah in his white VW Golf when police pulled him over about 10.45pm on October 5.
Having breached the legal limit on a breath test, he was taken to Sutherland police station where police observed him for 15 minutes.
Officers said London told them he didn't know when he had his last drink or when he started drinking, but that he had a schnitzel for dinner and he'd been drinking Pure Blondes.
"The accused's eyes were glazed and bloodshot," police evidence stated. "A strong scent of alcohol could be smelt on the accused."
When he was given a second breath test, he registered a blood-alcohol reading of 0.265, which is more than five times the legal limit.
London's solicitor said his client, a carpenter who employs 10 people in his business, had been out drinking as part of a work dinner the night he was caught.
He said London's sister was "on her deathbed" at the time of the offence.
Aside from the shocking number of drink-driving offences mentioned in the court, a cocaine dealer avoided jail and a 23-year-old student copped a $5000 fine for skipping jury duty with a fraudulent doctor's certificate.
One 23-year-old plumber had been drinking all day at the Randwick races before driving a golf cart around a carpark, others had been caught with meth in their system during routine patrols and one 30-year-old described by his lawyer as a "smart, intelligent and successful young man" was caught drink-driving for the second time.
After each drink-driver appeared, Mr Bugden checked whether they had heard what he said to London.
London was handed a two-year community corrections order. He was made to install an interlock - an in-car breathalyser that prevents a user from starting a vehicle until a breath alcohol test is taken - on his car for nine months. He was also fined $1500. No conviction was recorded.