Ice user was ‘out of it’ when he caused crash on Murray Valley Highway at Ebden

SERIOUS DAMAGE: The Toyota Camry driven by Joel Burkitt had damage to the driver's side in the crash.

SERIOUS DAMAGE: The Toyota Camry driven by Joel Burkitt had damage to the driver's side in the crash.

A man who smoked ice at 9am before taking another woman’s children to the weir for a swim put everyone at risk when he drifted off into oncoming traffic.

Joel Burkitt was sentenced to two months in jail, but will appeal the outcome.

The 30-year-old was so “out of it” on November 27 last year, he was convinced the other car was actually on the wrong side of the road.

He had taken the drugs at a woman’s Lavington home before borrowing her red Toyota Camry to take her 11-year-old and 7-year-old daughters, plus their 11-year-old friend, to Lake Hume.

A witness travelling behind the Camry on a 100km/h section of Murray Valley Highway at Ebden at 1.50pm saw Burkitt turn his head to the back seat, causing the car to drift left off the road.

Then he lost control of the car in the other direction.

Burkitt pleaded guilty in Wodonga Magistrates’ Court to reckless conduct endangering serious injury, drug driving, unlicensed driving and using methamphetamine.

The victims were a family of two parents and two children in a white Toyota Landcruiser towing a camper van.

LUCKY ESCAPE: The Toyota Landcruiser being driven by the victim ended up 75 metres away from the car that crash into its driver's side.

LUCKY ESCAPE: The Toyota Landcruiser being driven by the victim ended up 75 metres away from the car that crash into its driver's side.

Prosecutor Penny Lawler said the man driving tried to swerve out of the path of Burkitt’s car as it travelled straight towards them.

“The collision ripped off the rear right wheel of the camper van and both vehicles deflected and skidded,” she said.

Burkitt tested positive for methamphetamine, plus had nine aqua-coloured tablets in a deal bag, antipsychotic drug pericyazine and a used syringe in his pockets, and four oxycontin tablets.

A witness described him as “fidgety” after the crash.

The accused told police “I took some ice about 9am, but it was only a small amount and I thought I was OK” and blamed the Landcruiser driver for the crash.

Solicitor Mario Vaccaro said Burkitt now accepted responsibility, but argued the drugs did not cause the crash. “It’s caused by carelessness rather than the effect of methamphetamine in his system,” he said.

Magistrate Ian Watkins said Burkitt’s appearance after the crash showed he was under the influence and sentenced him to jail, plus a 12-month community corrections order with 80 hours unpaid work on his release.

“The way he presents there, one of the witnesses says it all, he seemed to be out of it … You were unaware you were even on the wrong side of the road,” he said.

“It’s a miracle there weren’t any more serious injuries.”

The appeal will be heard in the County Court.

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