Veteran told community would still support him after DUI
A DEFENCE force veteran in court for drink-driving burst into tears when a magistrate told him the community would always support him.
The man, who The Observer has not named, served the country for 10 years including in East Timor for the Australian Defence Force and was commended by Magistrate Dennis Kinsella in court on Tuesday.
The 43-year-old pleaded guilty in Gladstone Magistrates Court to one count of driving under the influence of liquor after an incident on July 6, 2019.
About 3am that morning police received a phone call from an intoxicated-sounding informant reporting a car crash on the Dawson Highway.
When police arrived about 3.15am officers found a car abandoned on an embankment, however no driver was to be seen.
Police found the man about 1km south of the crash.
He admitted to driving the car, and returned a blood alcohol content reading of .159 per cent.
The man told police he had drunk a 700ml bottle of Jägermeister.
Defence lawyer Jun Pepito said the offending occurred as a result of the man's paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis.
Mr Pepito said the man was in between medications in a "trial and error” phase and had started to "hear voices”.
Mr Pepito said his client felt he needed to get away from his house. Mr Kinsella told the man the community was here for him.
"The community owes people like you, who have served the country,” he said.
"We are here for you ... when you need the help, we will be there.”
Mr Kinsella said although resources in Gladstone were limited, veterans should not feel like they had nobody.
"The community is interested in you, whether it feels like it or not at times, the community is here for you.”
The man bowed his head, thanked the magistrate and began to cry. Mr Kinsella said he would impose a lighter sentence as a result of the man's mental health, background and personal circumstances. The man was fined $800 and was disqualified from driving for six months. A conviction was not recorded. Veteran services can be accessed from the Department of Human Services at 164 Goondoon St.