Suspended jail for 'horrific' drive

OBADIAH Hopkins' dangerous and drug-affected driving on the Tugun bypass just hours after its opening has been labelled “horrific” by Murwillumbah Magistrate Nicholas Reimer.

The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving under the influence of drugs last year and was handed an 18-month fully suspended jail sentence in the Murwillumbah Local Court yesterday.

“It is putting it lightly to say police were 'horrified' - they thought at any minute they were going to see people being killed or maimed,” Mr Reimer said.

Only hours after the bypass had opened on June 3 Hopkins careened down Sexton Hill and hit a guard rail, prompting at least 15 people to call Tweed Heads police and complain.

An unmarked police car started following Hopkins' white Daihatsu van near the Kennedy Drive highway exit.

The officers inside were shocked to see it drive straight towards a traffic controller.

Marked cars joined the chase, which only stopped when Hopkins crashed into a centre guard rail and became bogged in the mud near the Gold Coast Airport.

Hopkins told police he had been driving from Lismore to Mullumbimby and had no idea how he ended up in Tweed Heads.

A blood test taken from Hopkins after the pursuit came back positive for the drug commonly known as ecstasy, plus a number of sedatives, including valium.

Yesterday, Hopkins' defence solicitor Cameron Bell said he was confident Hopkins would not re-offend and suggested a fair punishment would be a good-behaviour bond or suspended prison sentence.

“Jail is a possibility, but not on this occasion, given the efforts he has made,” Mr Bell said.

Mr Reimer said Hopkins' traffic record before the pursuit had been relatively good.

“There are other matters, but nothing quite like this ... and there are very few traffic matters. There is nothing that would have given anyone a thought this would happen,” Mr Reimer said.

“That was the effect of the drugs that you had at the time.”

On top of the suspended jail sentence Hopkins received an 18-months good-behaviour bond and disqualified from holding a licence for three years.



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