A LINGUISTICS professor who lives a hermit-like existence at Upper Duroby translating books was convicted in Tweed Heads Local Court yesterday of drink-driving.
The court heard Gwendolyn Irene Driebeek was afraid a French couple who had recently visited her had been trapped in the Victorian bushfires and decided to drive to get help, despite never having held an Australian licence.
According to police, the 55-year-old was seen driving down Bilambil Road at 4.30pm DST on February 12 with a dog on her lap. The officers turned around so they could speak to her, and saw the vehicle drive into a property.
After five tries Driebeek was able to produce a breath test that tested positive for alcohol. She later blew .125 per cent blood alcohol concentration.
Driebeek's solicitor, Russell Baxter, said she had a PhD in linguistics and had come to Australia in 1987 from Amsterdam with her husband, who had since died.
“She can speak six languages flu- ently and four not as fluently as she would like,” Mr Baxter said.
While she did have help with her shopping, Mr Baxter said Driebeek had lived alone since the death of her husband in 1999.
“She lives an almost hermit-like existence with her books and linguistics,” Mr Baxter said.
He said Driebeek had also set up an orphanage in Aceh, Indonesia in the wake of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 that now housed 250 children.
He said in the days leading up to the offence a French couple had been at Driebeek's house. He said that on February 12 Driebeek had a couple of drinks, then started to get worried about her French friends, who she feared had been caught in the Vic- torian bushfires. She drove to her neighbours to get help for them.
Driebeek pleaded guilty to driving unlicensed, driving with a pet on her lap and mid-range drink-driving,
Magistrate Nick Reimer disqualified Driebeek from holding a licence for 12 months and fined her a total of $519.