Jail for 5-time drink-driver

A JINDERA man caught drink-driving while more than four times over the legal limit has been jailed.

Travis Lafferty, 32, yesterday appeared in Wodonga Court on what was his fifth drink-driving charge — leading Magistrate John Murphy to question what it would take to get the message through.

“What about the other person who you could have killed?” Mr Murphy asked.

“Why do we wait until someone is killed before (a drink driver) goes to jail?”

Police tried to pull over Lafferty after seeing him drive at “a fast rate of speed” on Old Barnawartha Road at Barnawartha North about 7.50pm on October 5 last year, the court was told.

Lafferty, of Britton Court, who refused to stop, lost control of the car as he drove on to the Murray Valley Highway.

The car went into a spin before it stopped.

Lafferty and his girlfriend, who was his passenger, were uninjured.

Police saw him stagger as he got out of the car. He blew positive to a preliminary breath test and later recorded a blood alcohol reading on 0.217.

There were no other motorists on the road at the time.

Lafferty’s solicitor Greg Duncan said his client had been drinking after finishing work at the Woolworths distribution centre and was “foolish enough to attempt to drive”.

Mr Duncan said the incident was “a wake-up call” for Lafferty, who had since sought help for alcoholism.

The court was told Lafferty had four prior charges of drink driving: two on the same night in 2000; one in NSW in March 2005; and a mid-range reading in 2008.

Mr Duncan argued “locking him up won’t assist with his rehabilitation”, and urged Mr Murphy to suspend any jail term, because Lafferty was the sole breadwinner for his partner and their three children.

But Mr Murphy said Lafferty had already had three chances and must be punished.

“It must deter others so they hopefully say: ‘I better not drink and drive’,” he said.

Mr Murphy sentenced Lafferty to three months jail, with two months suspended for two years. He disqualified Lafferty from driving for 3½ years.

After his sentence was announced, Lafferty hugged his girlfriend, who burst into tears as he was led away.

“She may be upset it comes to this,” Mr Murphy observed, “but better this than to see him carted off for five years or, worse still, because he’s killed someone.”