John Setka's partner Emma Walters in Horsham Court on drink driving charges. Picture: Tony Gough
John Setka's partner Emma Walters in Horsham Court on drink driving charges. Picture: Tony Gough

Setka’s wife admits to drink-driving five times over limit

Emma Walters, the wife of Victorian CFMEU boss John Setka, has pleaded guilty to driving with a blood-alcohol level more than five times the legal limit, a court has heard.

Police Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Belinda Ryan told Horsham Magistrates' Court on Thursday Ms Walters was pulled over at around 8.05pm on Boxing Day, after she was busted speeding at 126kmh in a 100kmh zone on the Western Highway, near Horsham.

Ms Walters, 43, blew .282 and "smelt strongly of the intoxicant liquor … speech was slurred" and was "unsteady on her feet", Sen Con Ryan said.

The prosecutor told the court when Ms Walters was asked what and when she last drank, she said vodka the afternoon before.

Ms Walters was supported in court by her husband with the pair arriving in his CFMMEU work car.

The court heard evidence from the couple's psychologist David List, who said: "There had been extremely stressful Christmas Day between the two of them."

He said Ms Walters had suffered from pneumonia and undergone major surgery in 2018 which, coupled with intense scrutiny after her husband was slapped with charges in 2015 that were later dropped last year, had driven Ms Walters to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety.

Dr List said Ms Walters went into a week-long detox program at a facility in Adelaide following the Boxing Day episode.

He said the couple were working out their difference whereas previously Ms Walters felt "there were significant issues around the dynamic of their relationship in which they both described a cycle of behaviour between them, where she would feel she had to submit to her husband in terms of him being angry and demanding of her."

The matter has been adjourned until Ms Walters is assessed for a community corrections order.

Barrister John Lavery, who is representing Ms Walters, said his client turned to alcohol after her father died in 1995 to cope with "to cope with anxiety and depression".

Ms Walters and Mr Setka have publicly said they were going through a difficult period in their marriage at the time of the incident, and released a joint statement earlier in August saying they said and did things they regretted at the "height of emotional turmoil" during their marital troubles.

The couple previously admitted their marital issues. Picture: Tony Gough
The couple previously admitted their marital issues. Picture: Tony Gough

"We have as a family, had an incredibly difficult few years and I made it clear then as I am now, I was in a very dark place in which I did seek refuge with alcohol during that time and this is something I am not proud of," Ms Walters said in the August statement.

Mr Setka pleaded guilty in June to breaching a court order and harassing Ms Walters by text messages.




Ms Walters identified herself as the person who received the harassing text messages.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has been pursuing the removal of Mr Setka from the ALP saying his conduct was bringing the entire party into disrepute.

Setka is seeking to appeal a Supreme Court decision rejecting his bid to stop him being expelled from the Labor Party.

Ms Walters was recently hired as an electoral officer for the Victorian Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek.