P-plater remembers flood

NICHOLAS ELLIOTT will always remember when the May 2009 flood hit Lismore.

He was at the opening of Tommy’s restaurant and bar, enjoying a fairly spectacular night out with some mates when he got a call telling him the car he had just borrowed $8000 to buy was about to go under water at South Lismore.

Elliott walked home through the pouring winter rain to get his keys and then to his car to join the exodus of South Lismore residents driving over the Ballina Street Bridge to high ground.

The only problem was Elliott’s night out had involved some heavy drinking.

By the time he got behind the wheel his blood alcohol level was at 0.20 – high enough to land him in strife even if Elliott, then 18, was not on his red Ps.

The drive over the bridge didn’t go so well either. Drunk and navigating through heavy rain and heavy traffic, Elliott crashed into the median strip, blocking part of the road and drawing the attention of police.

In Lismore Local Court the high reading and accident cost him his licence for three years.

Yesterday Elliott appealed in Lismore District Court against the length of that suspension.

Lismore barrister Nicolas Harrison told the court Elliott, who had been working as a trainee on a farm while he lived at Lismore, was now at Newcastle, working on the railway as an apprentice welder, a job that sent him around the country repairing track sections.

Judge James Black took pity on Elliott, saying his driving had not been premeditated.

“It was a bad decision, but understandable,” he said.

“He was not chancing his arm, he wasn’t sneaking a drink when he knew he should be zero and hoping to get away with it. He was, I accept, in a panic about his new car and made a very bad decision.”

Elliott’s disqualification was reduced to one year. He will be back on the road on May 20.

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