South West man drink driving in head-on
A mentally ill South West man who was drunk behind the wheel when he drifted head-on into another car has been given an opportunity to prove he should not go to jail.
Diagnosed as a schizophrenic, Scott James Overington, 31, had not taken his medication and instead consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel on December 6 last year when he crashed into another car on Bussell Highway in Carbunup.
Overington tried to walk away while the female driver of the other car was trapped with serious injuries, but witnesses who saw the crash were able to physically restrain him until police arrived.
A blood test showed Overington had a blood alcohol level of 0.179.
In what was described by Magistrate Evan Shackleton in Bunbury Magistrates Court on Thursday as a crash that could have been “hellishly worse”, the woman received numerous injuries including a fractured radius and ulna, broken ribs and lacerations to her face and had to be airlifted to Perth.
Despite the frightening crash, Overington again drove after drinking on two other occasions.
Police stopped Overington on January 10 when a breath test recorded a 0.092 blood alcohol reading and then just 12 days later he was again caught driving under court suspension with a blood alcohol level of 0.099.
The details were revealed when Overington was due to be sentenced after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm, driving under the influence of alcohol and two counts of driving with a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08.
He also pleaded guilty to failing to stop and help after an incident causing bodily harm and having no authority to drive.
Defence lawyer William Reid said Overington had made “real strides” in his rehabilitation since the incidents, including being accepted to a 24-7 staffed mental health facility, having family support and taking his medication.
Magistrate Shackleton said it was a difficult sentencing exercise because if Overington did not have a mental illness there was “no question” he would go immediately to jail, but making an example of him was “not the right thing to do”.
He said the “easy answer” was to lock Overington up, but ultimately he had not reached a decision on the appropriate sentence.
Magistrate Shackleton put Overington on an eight-month pre-sentence order telling him if he complied with its requirements he was unlikely to be jailed, but if he did “muck up” he would have “very little choice”.
The order includes a protective condition that Overington not consume alcohol or illicit drugs.
He will be sentenced in March next year.
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