Learner driver Christopher Bell, of Lismore, with supporters outside the Lismore Courthouse after he was given a suspended jail sentence by Magistrate Robyn Denes.
Learner driver Christopher Bell, of Lismore, with supporters outside the Lismore Courthouse after he was given a suspended jail sentence by Magistrate Robyn Denes. Ross Irby

Drunken burn-out ends in crash

PARTY-GOER and learner driver Christopher Bell’s drunken ‘burn-out’ sent his car crashing into a parked vehicle on Lismore’s Oakley Avenue.

Bell, 19, of East Lismore, told police at the crash scene just after 10pm on October 14 last year that he had not eaten any food because he wanted ‘to get pissed real fast’ and drank 10 cans of vodka mix.

Bell pleaded guilty in the Lismore Local Court on Tuesday to high-range drink-driving (a blood/alcohol reading of 0.185 per cent); and being an unaccompanied learner driver.

A police statement of facts said the teenager was doing burn-outs before the crash, which left both cars extensively damaged and having to be towed away.

Bell at first denied being the driver, but was identified by people at the scene. While being held in the dock at the Lismore Police Station, police stated Bell was singing loudly and playing ‘air guitar’.

Defence lawyer Rachael Thomas said her client was making positive changes by undertaking a Lifestyles Solutions program. He also had a number of medical issues and a diagnosis that ‘should be taken into account by the court’.

Ms Thomas said the party had been at Bell’s house and he had driven his car to the other end of the street to get it away from party-goers.

She said he had nearly completed a Traffic Offenders Program.

Magistrate Robyn Denes said Bell’s moral culpability was high and it called for a jail sentence, but she would suspend it because he was doing well with his various programs.

Ms Denes placed Bell on a seven-month jail sentence – immediately suspended – and ordered he be placed under the supervision of Probation Services.

Bell was also disqualified from driving for two years, until October 13 next year.



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