Drunk driver gives victim $5000

A DRUNK driver who was nearly five times over the legal limit has proven himself to have a generous spirit.

After crashing into the car of a 75-year-old man at Evans Head, the offender offered $5000 to buy him another car.

Andrew Thiel, 44, of Woodburn, pleaded guilty in the Lismore Local Court to high-range drink-driving with a blood/alcohol reading of 0.23 per cent after being involved in the crash at 1pm on September 4.

Magistrate Robyn Denes ordered Thiel to serve a nine-month periodic (weekend) detention sentence as punishment and disqualified him from driving for two years.

Thiel told police that he drank six or seven glasses of Wild Turkey bourbon at an Evans Head hotel because he ‘panicked’ after receiving some bad news from his doctor regarding a possible medical issue.

Defence barrister Peter O’Connor pleaded that if his client was to receive a custodial sentence it be done as periodic (weekend) detention to allow the single father to keep his job as a bridge labourer.

Mr O’Connor said Thiel’s prior driving record did not assist him, nor did his foolish behaviour of drinking and then driving. He accepted full responsibility.

Magistrate Denes replied it was lucky that Thiel could still see his son as Thiel could have died in the crash.

Mr O’Connor also used the argument that the circumstances had been unusual because of his client’s potential medical issue.

Ms Denes told Thiel that drinking then getting into a car ‘and nearly wiping out other people’ was not the way to deal with a problem.

Police facts before the court state Thiel, just minutes after leaving the hotel, was driving north along the Evans Head to Woodburn road at 100km/h when he collided with a box trailer being towed in the same direction by the elderly driver at 80km/h.

The impact caused the elderly man’s car to spin off the road and overturn onto its side. A police breath test on Thiel gave the high blood/alcohol reading of 0.23.

A letter was also tendered to the magistrate written by the elderly driver stating he met with Thiel several times since the accident and ‘accepted his honest apology and acknowledged his heartfelt remorse for his actions’.

“I am also extremely grateful for the $5000 cash he has given me to replace my car so quickly. I have found Andrew to be an honest man and true to his word,” he wrote.

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