‘Serious offence’: Repeat drug driver narrowly avoids prison

A REPEAT drug driver was lucky to leave court a free man after several dangerous oversights nearly landed him in prison.

Kevin Edward Woodhall pleaded guilty to five charges before Nanango Magistrates Court, including two counts of drug driving, possessing drug utensils, failing to properly dispose of a hypodermic syringe, and possessing an illegal weapon, namely a long baton.

At 4.30pm on June 6, 2020, the defendant was intercepted by police while driving in Blackbutt, with subsequent testing revealing he had a hit of cannabis before getting behind the wheel.

At midnight on June 24, 2020, the defendant was again intercepted by police while travelling along a Blackbutt Street. Likewise, officers determined he’d taken a cannabis hit before driving.

A search of the vehicle also revealed a spoon, which had been used to consume a dangerous drug, and a hypodermic syringe, which Woodhall had failed to dispose of properly.

On August 16, another police search of the defendants car located a restricted item - a 1.5 metre baton in the passenger side of the vehicle, fitted with a leather strap.

According to police prosecutor Pepe Gangemi, the June offences were committed while the defendant was on both parole and probation for previous drug offences.

“All offences were committed during that parole period for which he was sentenced in regards to drugs and other matters. It was 18 months probation and 9 months parole,” Sgt Gangemi said.

Woodhall’s defence lawyer, Chris Campbell, said until this point his client had been successful in his probation order, which had been the result of a methamphetamine addiction that has now ceased. He still, however, has “issues with cannabis”.

In relation to the hypodermic syringe found in the defendant‘s vehicle, Woodhall said it belonged to someone else and admits he should have been more aware of his car contents, especially considering some of the company he keeps.

Mr Campbell said his client informs him the baton located during the search was exclusively used to hold up the bonnet of his car, which no longer worked properly.

“The most serious offence in this case is driving while a relevant drug was present in your saliva. A serious offence made more serious by the fact that, in the past, you’ve been dealt with by police four times for similar matters, and worked your way up to the maximum period of disqualification,” Magistrate Andrew Sinclair.

“Clearly, the time for fines has long passed. I’d send you to prison today, except for the fact that you’ve been going to Lives Lived Well consistently throughout this period.”

Speaking directly to the court, Woodhall said he’d tried to do the right thing, waiting a few days to drive after getting high.

“I really thought it was out of my system,” he said.

Magistrate Sinclair sentenced Woodhall to a suspended jail term of eight months - four months for each of the drug drives. This has been suspended for a 12 month period.

He also was disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence for the next 18 months.

For the three remaining charges, he was convicted and not further punished.

Convictions were recorded.

South Burnett

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