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A big blow for priest

Fr Peter Jones, parish priest of St Patrick’s Catholic Church South Grafton, will appear in court on December 13.
Fr Peter Jones, parish priest of St Patrick’s Catholic Church South Grafton, will appear in court on December 13. Adam Hourigan

ST PATRICK'S South Grafton parish priest Father Peter Jones earned himself the dubious honour of returning one of the highest blood alcohol readings ever recorded in NSW by police.

An off-the-chart +.5 roadside reading was followed by registering .341, almost seven times the legal limit, on Wednesday when the 58-year-old Catholic priest was pulled over on the Pacific Hwy at Maclean.

A concerned motorist allegedly saw the white Toyota Camry being driven by Fr Jones crossing lanes at Harwood and reported the incident to police.

Police caught up with Fr Jones as he turned off the highway onto Yamba Rd and pulled him over for a roadside breath test.

The hand-held breathalyser used by police was unable to accurately measure Fr Jones' blood-alcohol content, only indicating it was more than .5 - 10 times the legal limit.

Fr Jones was then taken by police to Maclean police station where he recorded the high-range blood-alcohol reading of .341.

Police immediately cancelled Fr Jones' driver's licence and issued him with a court attendance notice ordering him to appear in Maclean Local Court on December 13.

A senior police source told the Daily Telegraph newspaper Fr Jones' reading was one of the highest recorded in recent times in NSW.

Fr Jones was bailed by police into the custody of St Mary's Grafton parish priest Fr Rex Hackett due to his level of intoxication.

The Telegraph reported Fr Jones' car, which is owned by the Catholic Church, was confiscated by police and Fr Hackett transported his colleague home.

Drug and alcohol educator Paul Dillon told the Telegraph Fr Jones' reading could not have been reached by drinking beer, but would have required sustained prolonged drinking of hard liquor.

"Generally speaking it would be very hard to imagine someone could get to a level about .3 with beer, which is between 3 to 5% alcohol," he told the Telegraph.

"You really would be looking at significant amounts of spirits, which are 35 to 50% alcohol, over a period of time."

Two standard drinks in an hour can see a man reach the legal limit for drivers of .05, with women only needing one standard drink.

Topics:  alcohol, drink driving, illegal, police, priest


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