Court hears teens endangered lives

A LEARNER driver who crashed on Tweed Valley Way at 190km/hr had his licence disqualified for three years at Murwillumbah Local Court on Wednesday.

John Keith Welch, 17, and his passenger were miraculously uninjured after the Holden Commodore sedan smashed into a tree on the bank of the Tweed River about 11pm on September 27.

When police arrived on the scene, the Tumbulgum teenager admitted he had taken his father’s car to do “circle work” before crashing while 110km/h over the speed limit.

Magistrate Michael Dakin had a simple question for Welch yesterday: “Why?”

“I did it because I could,” Welch said quietly.

“The seriousness of this is quite frankly breath-taking. If someone was killed or injured, the starting point would have been three years jail,” Mr Dakin said.

He said the incident was adequately and accurately described in police facts as being of an extreme level of danger and it was only through “sheer good fortune” that no one was seriously injured or killed.

For driving at a speed dangerous to the public, Mr Dakin disqualified the unemployed 17-year-old from driving for three years and put him on a good behaviour bond for the same period.

For driving unaccompanied and without L-plates, he was fined $500 with $76 court costs.

A charge of speeding by more than 45km/h above the speed limit was dismissed.

Welch, being on a learner’s permit, was only allowed to travel at a maximum speed of 80km/h and had to have a qualified instructor in the passenger seat, but his passenger had a disqualified provisional licence.

He told the court he regretted his actions and it would not happen again. Police said the youth was remorseful and co-operative during investigations.

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