Jail next time for drunk P-plater

A P-PLATE driver caught with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system has been disqualified from driving for two years after appearing in the Lismore Local Court.

It was the second drink-driving offence for 21-year-old Ryan Hawken.

Hawken, a Gold Coast resident, was granted bail to live with his father at his Blue Knob farm and pleaded guilty to the mid-range drink-driving offence.

He was apprehended at 4.30am on December 19 driving on the Dunoon Road with a blood/alcohol level of 0.105.

Defence lawyer Paul Smart said Hawken had planned to stay the night at a friend’s house after drinking spirits, but left when the landlord complained about the noise keeping his children awake.

He said at that time of the night Hawken had not been a danger to anyone.

Mr Smart said Hawken was convicted of a mid-range offence in 2007 and fined $1000, but had no speeding or negligent driving offences on his record.

“Even though he was very stupid, it was very late at night on a quiet country road, not a blatant or stupid move,” Mr Smart said.

He said Hawken had worked at a pallets factory and been a barman, and was not allowed to enter Nimbin (as part of bail conditions on an unrelated assault charge). That matter was weighing heavily on him.

“Not too heavily,” Magistrate Robyn Denes replied, pointing out that Hawken had been out drinking and that alcohol was involved in his other offences.

She said his alcohol problem was not being addressed.

Ms Denes said police facts indicated Hawken was moderately affected by alcohol and had not been very pleasant to police.

She told Hawken that as a P-plated driver he should not have been drinking before driving.

“One hopes it twigs soon that you and alcohol don’t go,” the magistrate told him.

He was convicted of the drink-driving offence, disqualified from driving for two years and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond under the supervision of Probation Services.

Ms Denes warned Hawken that if he got behind the wheel of a car he would go to jail.

Hawken also pleaded guilty to assaulting tourist Joshua England, causing him bodily harm in Nimbin on Boxing Day last year.

However, he is pleading not guilty to a more serious charge of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm while in the company of James Brown.

The assault took place just after 7pm when Mr England and his fiancée were sitting on a bench in Rainbow Lane after having dinner with family at the Nimbin Bowling Club.

Mr Smart said his client disputed Crown allegations that he struck Mr England in the face while holding a beer stubby in his fist which then broke.

Mr Smart said he had instructions from his client the other man had struck first.

Hawken is to appear for a committal hearing on February 19.

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