Drunk crash driver given home detention

Last updated 17:19 26/10/2012

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A Christchurch drunk driver who ran a red light injuring three members of a family will not drive again for 18 months.

Jason Matthew Williams, 21, ran a red light in Barrington with an alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, crashing into another car and injuring a family.

The family he struck has a younger daughter who was injured in the 2007 Edgeware Road incident where Lipine Sila was convicted of murder for driving a car into a crowd of young party-goers.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Holderness said Williams' decision to drive had been reckless.

"The outcome might have been worse. You could have been facing a motor manslaughter charge," the judge said at the sentencing after Williams admitted three charges of drink-driving causing injury.

Williams walked away uninjured from the crash on Barrington Street about 1am on June 17, but the family in the other car was badly injured and hospitalised.

For Williams - a first offender who works as a packer and lives in Sumner - the incident has led to disqualification from driving, community detention, supervision, probably delayed studies, and financial devastation.

Cheryl Shuker said after the sentencing that she was happy with the judge's decision about a penalty for Williams.

"I just want him to learn from it and never do it again," she said. Shuker suffered significant soft tissue injury, and injury to her thorax, shoulder, and serious bruising.

She also read out the victim impact statement for her daughter Katherine Shuker, who now lives in Australia with her partner, Richard Burrowes.

Katherine Shuker had arm and shoulder injuries, an abdominal injury, a dislocated vertebrae, and injuries to her hip and shoulder. Burrowes had serious spinal injuries which required surgery.

Cheryl Shuker told the court that the family had been starting to heal from having a younger daughter injured in the Edgeware Road incident, when the crash took place in June.

In court, she told Williams: "You need to be accountable for the destruction you have caused. I hope this will teach you the lesson that drinking and driving don't mix, and that life is valuable."

Defence counsel Bill McMenamin said Williams was seen as a sensible and responsible young man who had never offended before.

He was willing to face the victims at a restorative justice conference, but the police said the family had declined.

"He realises how badly he behaved and the damage he has done," said McMenamin.

"He is adamant he will not put himself in this position again."

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Judge Holderness noted that Williams was found to have a level of 1124mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath. The legal limit is 400mcg.

He sentenced Williams to four months of community detention that will keep him at home every night, and disqualified him from driving for 18 months with a special condition that he attend a driver education programme as directed by his probation officer.

He will be under supervision for a year and he will have to do 200 hours of community work. Williams has begun paying $11,570 to the insurance company at $50 a week.

Judge Holderness ordered another $4500 payment to the family as emotional harm reparations, and ordered that the weekly rate of payment be reviewed in four months' time, in case it could be increased.

He said that Williams had a plan to go to university next year, but he may need to reconsider that because of the financial liability he now faces.

- The Press

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