Yamba man gets jail time for drunken crash

A GRAFTON magistrate expressed surprise that a drink-driver close to five times over the limit was able to get behind the wheel at all.

Former Yamba resident Eric Ugle, 22, was sentenced to 12 months jail in Grafton Local Court this week after he pleaded guilty to take and drive without consent, high range drink-driving (second offence) and driving recklessly/furiously.

The court heard the accused was a passenger of a car bound for Rocky Laurie Sports Field in Yamba on November 2, 2016.

The driver and two other passengers left their wallets and phones in the Toyota sedan and went onto the field to play touch football. About 7pm, Ugle obtained the keys to the car and left without telling the owner, who discovered it missing about 7.30pm.

From the sports field, the 22-year-old drove to his grandparents' house nearby, and when he left, his grandfather was so concerned about his state he called the police.

About 7.45pm, Ugle overtook two cars "up the inside" as he approached the Yamba Rd and Golding St roundabout, speeding above the 50km/h limit. He then lost control at the roundabout and slid to the wrong side of the road where he crashed into the driver's side of a parked Hilux.

The driver of the Hilux, a woman waiting to collect her husband, sustained a sore neck and back in the crash.

Ugle, meanwhile, was knocked out and found draped across the passenger seat with his feet and legs still under the steering column. When the husband of the injured woman ran to help, he thought the young driver was dead.

Both drivers were taken to Maclean Hospital, and police had to be called when Ugle tried to leave without giving a blood sample.

Eventually, a blood alcohol reading of 0.241 was recorded.

After Ugle breached an AVO ordered as a result of the November 2 incident six weeks ago, he was arrested.

In court on Monday, his defence solicitor described the accused as a community- minded football and cricket player who had won his fair share of best and fairest awards.

He told the court Ugle resorted to alcohol as a way to cope with traumatic events surrounding the death of his aunt Lynette Daley.

"This young man is very remorseful for what he has done," he said.

"He is very keen to re-engage with the community and do something positive."

Magistrate Denes said it was clear he was a very different person from what the police facts described.

"With a reading of 0.241, I don't know how you could even get in a car," she said.

Ugle was sentenced to 12 months with a six-week non-parole period dating back to his arrest, which allowed for his immediate release.

He was disqualified from driving for two years.


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