Jessica Lee Abberton pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to dangerous operation of a vehicle and driving over the middle alcohol limit. Photo: Social Media
Jessica Lee Abberton pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to dangerous operation of a vehicle and driving over the middle alcohol limit. Photo: Social Media

WILD DRIVE: Drunk woman crashes into deck of Bargara home

What was meant to be a quiet dinner on the deck almost ended in tragedy for a Bargara couple when an out-of-control ute crashed the party.

The car's driver, Jessica Lee Abberton, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court on Friday to one charge of dangerous operation of a vehicle and driving over the middle alcohol limit but not the high alcohol limit.

On January 19, Abberton was seen driving her Toyota HiLux from the Bargara Caravan Park near Neilson Park Beach before crashing onto the front deck of a home 700m away.

It was school holidays at the time and Abberton and her partner were staying at the park on holidays.

The court heard one of the residents of the home was setting the table on the deck to have dinner with her husband, before Abberton crashed into the deck.

The woman's husband, who was an off-duty police officer, told police Abberton only missed hitting his wife and dog by about 1.5m.

A number of witnesses who saw Abberton driving in the lead-up to the crash estimated she was travelling up to 90km/h in a 50 zone.

A witness at the skate park told police they saw Abberton spin the wheels of the car in the dirt of the caravan park before driving off.

The court heard Abberton and her partner were on holidays in Bargara at the time of the incident. Photo: Social media
The court heard Abberton and her partner were on holidays in Bargara at the time of the incident. Photo: Social media


The witness told officers Abberton did not break over speed bumps and saw the same ute at the crash site.

Another two witnesses, who were playing cricket in a nearby park, told officers they heard the car and saw it become airborne going over a speed bump.

The daughter of one of the two witnesses was crossing the road at the time and began running for fear of being hit by Abberton.

Both witnesses estimated the ute to be travelling between 70 and 90km/h.

Another witness saw the ute turn sharply and lose control before mounting the deck of the house.

Both of the home's residents could hear the ute speeding before it hit the deck.

The man who was at the home with his wife told officers he turned the car off after it drove onto the deck and could smell alcohol coming from Abberton.

The witness said Abberton told them they had been drinking for most of the day.

When police arrived at the scene of the crash they saw Abberton's Toyota HiLux parked on the front deck of the home, with her sitting near the vehicle.

A blood sample was taken which later returned a BAC reading of 0.149 and a mechanical inspection of the ute found no defects.

When looking at photographs of the crash site, Magistrate Andrew Moloney noted he could see salt and pepper shakers and the damaged table.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Tina Bland told the court the incident was "quite a serious example" of the offence.

She said Abberton put other road users at risk and that if alcohol was an underlying issue a period of probation may be off assistance.

Abberton’s lawyer Matthew Messenger told the court his client had tried to get help for her issues with alcohol a number of time in the past. Photo: Social Media
Abberton’s lawyer Matthew Messenger told the court his client had tried to get help for her issues with alcohol a number of time in the past. Photo: Social Media

 

Abberton's lawyer Matthew Messenger told the court his client did have issues with alcohol that she had tried to address a number of times.

Mr Messenger told the court Abberton had struggled with alcohol for a long time, and that her partner was trying to stop her drinking before the incident.

He said Abberton was aware that if anyone was hurt she would be "going out the back door" instead of the "front door" of the courthouse.

"The speed she must have been going at to get the vehicle into that spot … was very consistent with the estimate of witnesses," said Magistrate Andrew Moloney.

Mr Messenger said his client was a hard working tractor operator and was willing to comply with a probation order.

Mr Moloney took into account Abberton's plea of guilty and that it came at an early opportunity.

He told Abberton that is was an "understatement" to say her driving was dangerous.

"It is, and I'm trying to find the right word … incredible luck that no one was hurt," he said.

"If anyone was hurt or killed, we wouldn't be talking about the length of time you would be without your licence, another court would be discussing how many years in custody.

"Members of the general public and holiday makers in Bargara are extremely lucky there was no tragedy."

Mr Moloney took into account Abberton's personal circumstances and history and told Abberton he thought she needed assistance.

"When I first heard the facts, I seriously thought about imprisonment, but Mr Messenger has put it somewhat in context," he said.

Abberton was disqualified from holding a licence for a total of 20 months and was also ordered to complete 12 months of probation.

She was also fined $3000 and a conviction was recorded.

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