Mental illness saves drug-driver from jail

THE tiny hatchback driven by Travis Mark Collis may as well have been a loaded bullet as he hurtled south along the Nicklin Way about 11.15pm on September 10 last year.

When traffic lights at the Jessica Blvd intersection turned red, Collis had eight-plus seconds to stop, but police estimated he was travelling at 118kmh.

He skidded 50m through the intersection before ramming a four-wheel drive which was crossing on a green light to Kensington St.

The point of impact was just behind the cabin where the driver and passenger were sitting, which police prosecutor Sergeant Shane Raison told Maroochydore Magistrates Court was all that prevented a death.

The two occupants of the four-wheel drive were not hospitalised, but Collis was placed in an induced coma and spent a fortnight in hospital.

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty in court yesterday to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and driving with drugs - cannabis and amphetamines - in his system.

Sgt Raison sought a 15-18-month prison term for Collis, but his lawyer, Chelsea Emery, submitted that a sentence of six to nine months was more in range, without him serving actual jail time.

Ms Emery said Collis was troubled by schizophrenia and depression, and had difficulties with his mental health on the day of the collision.

Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan, in what she described as a difficult decision, sentenced Collis to eight months' jail, with immediate release on parole.

Ms Callaghan said she was "very concerned about what a period of imprisonment might do to someone with a mental illness".

Collis was also disqualified from driving for a total of two years.



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