Driver given reduced penalty

NATIONALS stalwart Murray Lees will be back on the road within four months after Lismore District Court Judge James Black agreed to change a sentence for drink-driving handed down early this year.

Judge Black yesterday also agreed to set aside Peter Murray Lees’ eight-month suspended prison sentence, handed down by Magistrate Michael Dakin at Murwillumbah Local Court in January for Lees’ fourth drink-driving offence in five years.

Mr Dakin had also banned Lees, 44, of Dulguigan, north of Murwillumbah, from driving for three years.

Lees, who ran the Nationals’ Page campaign in 2007, stepped down from his leadership positions within the party while he dealt with issues around depression and drinking.

Yesterday’s decision will let Lees get back behind the wheel on September 17 – a year after he blew 0.085 after being stopped by police while racing to get to his brother-in-law, who had just been in a bad traffic accident.

Judge Black allowed Lees to enter the interlock program, which would allow him to drive so long as he fitted a device to his car that forced him to pass a breathalyser test before starting the engine. He won’t be allowed to drive without the device for two years from September 17.

The court heard Lees had been celebrating his birthday and was waiting with his wife for a taxi to go out to dinner when the couple got a call from Mrs Lees’ brother, who had just been in a traffic accident.

The couple jumped in the family car, with Lees behind the wheel, and drove off to help, but ended up being stopped by police.



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