Magistrate not coerced by story

IT WAS a liquid encounter with a bitter aftertaste for Peter Middleton when a Lismore Local Court magistrate did not believe his story that he had been coerced by mates into drinking.

Magistrate Robyn Denes told Middleton he could had soda water instead before fining him $650 for drink-driving.

Middleton, 29, of McLeans Ridges, pleaded guilty to mid-range drink-driving with a reading of 0.09 after being caught at 1.40am by police manning an RBT station at Byron Bay on October 3.

The mill operator told police he drank five schooners of bourbon and coke that night at nightspot Liquid in Byron Bay.

His defence lawyer explained how Middleton was suffering anxiety and depression because of a marital breakdown and went out for a round of golf before having two beers with friends who wanted to cheer him up.

Middleton had returned home in a taxi, but his friends then ‘coerced him’ into giving them a lift to Liquid and then ‘enticed him’ to drink.

Ms Denes replied that Middleton had not been enticed because he had a choice. “He is not a man of no will.”

The lawyer replied his client’s intention had been to drop his friends off, but then went into Liquid and had five drinks and had underestimated thealcohol he consumed.

“Or he just didn’t think about it at all,” replied Ms Denes.

The lawyer said Middleton completed a Traffic Offenders Program that had proven to be an eye-opener for him.

“I do not accept that your friends coerced you into driving or drinking,” Ms Denes said.

“You could have chosen to have soda or a light beer. I’m sure they didn’t twist your arm and pour it down your throat.”

After taking into account his previous low-range drink-driving conviction, Ms Denes fined Middleton $650 and disqualified him from driving for 12 months.

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