Deadly lesson didn't sink in

DAVID BERG was drunk behind the wheel of his car when he crashed, killing his girlfriend.

Despite serving a jail term for that offence, the deadly lesson did not sink in, with the Goonellabah resident back before the court yesterday on a drink-driving charge.

Berg, 51, a former butcher now on a disability pension, was ordered to serve one month of a seven-month jail sentence after pleading guilty in Lismore Local Court to mid-range drink-driving (0.105) at Goonellabah on September 30 last year.

Defence lawyer Ben Cochrane acknowledged his client had previous drink-driving offences, including the matter that resulted in the death of Berg’s partner in the road crash on a wet night some years ago.

Mr Cochrane said in that case the woman had not been wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle.

Documents reveal Berg was later jailed on a charge of aggravated dangerous driving causing death.

Magistrate Robyn Denes said she appreciated it had been horrific for Berg, but she would have thought that if anything would stop him from drinking and driving it would have been that tragedy.

Mr Cochrane argued the mid-range charge was at the low end of the offending scale.

He explained how his client was doing volunteer work for a charity when he took its van that he was fixing for a short drive to buy auto supplies, not realising he was over the legal alcohol limit to drive when stopped at a police RBT.

“He was drinking beer on a hot day and misjudged,” Mr Cochrane said.

Ms Denes said his bad record aggravated the offence because drinking and driving was not something he had done just once.

The magistrate noted Berg recently completed a detoxification program in which a report stated he was still drinking but was setting his own ‘boundaries’ on his problem.

“This is not something you can put boundaries on,” Ms Denes told him.

“The only appropriate sentence is custodial. It is what the community would expect.

“Imagine the outrage that he has done it again and released on a community service work order.”

Ms Denes also disqualified Berg from driving for three years until September 29, 2012.

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