Remorse too late to save drink-driver from jail

AN Albury man who was drunk and crashed his grandmother’s car at high speed causing serious injuries to two passengers yesterday produced a hand-written letter in court expressing his remorse for the incident.

Matthew Joseph Wishart crashed on the Hume freeway near the Borella Road overpass on January 7 this year after travelling at high speed while his passengers were urging him to slow down.

One was an 18-year-old pregnant woman and the other, a 20-year-old man, who were both hospitalised after the crash.

The woman suffered a punctured lung and the man a fractured left leg which was badly cut along with facial injuries.

Wishart, 19, appeared in Albury Local Court for sentencing on charges of taking a car without consent of the owner, never having held a licence, aggravated dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and driving furious causing actual bodily harm.

He was sentenced to a 24-month jail term, with a minimum of 15 months, due to expire on April 6 next year.

Wishart was also banned from driving for three years.

He had taken his grandmother’s Kia Rio car for a joyride to Barnawartha, but turned around to come back to Albury.

It was about 2.15am on January 7 when the car left the highway, hit the gutter, slid sideways, went through a barrier, flipped on to its roof and slid for many metres before rolling several times.

It came to rest on the Borella Road on-ramp.

Police discovered Wishart had a blood alcohol level of 0.208.

The car was extensively damaged was eventually written off.

Solicitor Tim Hemsley said it was an extremely high blood alcohol reading and Wishart realised it was fortunate no other vehicles were involved.

Wishart has been refused bail since his arrest and Mr Hemsley said it was the seventh time he has been in juvenile or adult custody.

He had made poor decisions after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, but was prepared to attend rehabilitation.

Magistrate Megan Greenwood said Wishart took his grandmother’s car without consent and his passengers were pleading with him to stop.

Ms Greenwood said Wishart’s letter to her claimed it was the biggest mistake of his life.

“I find it somewhat difficult accepting your letter to the court about your remorse,” Ms Greenwood said.

“You put your passengers’ lives at very great risk. Those two people could easily have died.

“Your record really works against you today.”