Natasha Rudra June 20, 2012
A university student who crashed his car at high speed after drunkenly running a red light in Kingston has been convicted and warned of his ''appalling anti-social conduct''.
Edward Myles Byrne, 20, escaped with injuries to his hand after his car rolled several times on Bowen Drive in the early hours of February 19. The ACT Magistrates Court heard Byrne was spotted running a red light at the intersection of Wentworth Avenue and Eyre Street before reaching speeds of 140km/h in a 60km/h zone. He was overtaking another car at high speed when he lost control and crashed. The court heard he had been drinking at a birthday party at the Kennedy Room nightspot when his arrangements to get home fell through and he decided to drive.
When police arrived at the scene, Byrne told them he drove because he wanted to get home and said he had had six to eight drinks.
He appeared intoxicated and happy despite the accident and returned an alcohol reading of .167, in the highest range for drink-driving. The court heard Byrne spent days in hospital with injuries to the tendons of his hand and had little recollection of the accident.
His lawyer said his client had not driven since the accident, was deeply remorseful for his actions and realised he was lucky not to have hurt anyone else. Byrne's car was written off and he had lost his job as a waiter at a Gundaroo restaurant.
Character references tendered in court spoke of a young man who was responsible and respected by those around him.
Magistrate Beth Campbell said the incident showed ''the most appalling anti-social conduct'' and said Byrne was significantly intoxicated and incapable of controlling his car. She said it was a scary example of somebody abrogating all responsibility and told Byrne he was lucky he had not been more seriously hurt.
But the magistrate noted Byrne appeared to have a high sense of civic duty and was thoughtful towards others. ''I accept there are a constellation of things that suggest that you won't re-offend,'' she told Byrne. ''But on the other hand I have to send a message to other young men who might think that possibly the rules don't apply to them.''
Ms Campbell convicted Byrne, fined him $500 and placed him on a good-behaviour order for 18 months.
He was also disqualified for 18 months.