DESPITE police catching Geoffrey Marshall Lawson drink-driving twice in five months, the Lismore real estate agent will be back on the Northern Rivers roads driving his Hyundai Santa Fe in three months and, in an unusual twist, he has his weight loss to thank.
Lawson, 63, of Lismore Heights, first pleaded guilty in Lismore Local Court to high-range drink driving – three times the legal limit (0.155 per cent) on June 19 last year.
After pleading for court leniency because of his need for a driver’s licence for his work, a magistrate placed Lawson on a Section 10 two-year good behaviour bond not to re-offend.
In that first offence police saw him drive his vehicle from the Lismore Heights Bowling Club car park, cross over unbroken lines and narrowly miss a traffic sign.
Lawson told the police he drank ‘three middy glasses of ice with a bit of white wine in each’ and had eaten only a meat pie.
Police again caught Lawson drink-driving on November 23 – this time with a low-range blood/alcohol reading of 0.060. The realtor told police officers conducting random breath testing on Deloraine Road that he drank four middies of beer and one nip of scotch whisky at Lismore Heights Workers Club.
Because of his breach of the bond imposed for his first offence, Lawson also faced re-sentencing on that matter.
However, after hearing legal argument from defence lawyer Ralph James this week, Lismore Local Court magistrate Robyn Denes elected not to take any action on the breach of bond but did criticise Lawson’s offending.
Ms Denes fined Lawson $500 and disqualified him from driving for 12 weeks until June 21.
Lawson supplied the court with glowing personal references from friend and prominent lawyer Alister Somerville and from friend of 25 years and State MP Thomas George.
In his client’s defence Mr James argued that because of serious health problems and surgery his client lost 20kg in weight, going from 90kg to 70kg, but had not taken this into account when continuing to drink the four beers that previously had no effect on his blood/alcohol readings.
To back up his legal argument, Mr James tendered a document from Robert Weatherby an associate professor from Drugs in Sport, Exercise Biochemistry in the School of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University.
The registered pharmacist considered how Lawson, after his surgery and weight loss, continued to drink the usual four middies of beer that previously gave him a negative reading when breath tested and its effect on his blood/alcohol level with his much-reduced weight.
“Yes, he should have adjusted his drinking habit, to take into account his changed body mass,” the professor wrote.