Axedale drink-driver faces sixth .05 offence 

A man who flipped his car on its roof while driving drunk in Axedale has escaped jail despite the incident being his sixth 0.05 offence.

James Charles Fitzpatrick, 44, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates Court on Friday to one charge of drink driving and driving while disqualified.

The court heard Fitzpatrick was driving home from the Axedale Tavern in the early hours of July 22 when he lost control on a bend.

Prosecuting, Leading Senior Constable Lindsay Riley said Fitzpatrick’s car had hit a drain then flipped onto its roof.

Leading Senior Constable Riley said Fitzpatrick suffered a minor cut to his head and refused treatment.

A test conducted a short time later showed Fitzpatrick had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.14 per cent. Leading Senior Constable Riley said Fitzpatrick was on a zero Blood Alcohol Concentration condition at the time, and also had his licence suspended because of demerit points.

Fitzpatrick’s lawyer Kate Youngson said her client had not  intended to drive home on the night in question but could not find his friend who had offered him a lift.

Ms Youngson said Fitzpatrick had lost control of his car when he swerved to avoid something on the road.

“This is the sixth time he has appeared before the courts for drinking while driving... he understands he is facing a term of imprisonment,” she said.

Leading Senior Constable Riley said “specific deterrence” would be key to sentencing Fitzpatrick.

“He needs to be shown this is not acceptable. He poses a danger to the public.”

But Magistrate John Lesser said prison would not help rehabilitate Fitzpatrick.

“Your driving record is appalling as you well know and in the normal course of events prison would be the place for you, but I think we need to deal with the issues underlying this,” he said.

Mr Lesser placed Fitzpatrick on a 12-month community corrections order with assessment and treatment for alcohol abuse and a drink driving and road trauma program. He imposed a $900 fine and disqualified Fitzpatrick’s licence for 28 months.


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