P-plater's wild drive
TWO days after she was given her provisional licence, Brittany Louise Smiles, 17, overloaded her car with passengers in the boot, deliberately swerved all over the road, lost control and almost crashed into a power pole.
Smiles, now 18, was called to pick up a friend from a party at Brassall on September 9 and had four passengers in the cabin and two girls crammed in the boot.
As the girls laughed in the boot, Smiles told her passengers, "I'll teach these b*****s a lesson" and repeatedly jerked her car to the left and right, lost control, spun it 360 degrees and hit a culvert - eventually coming to rest within inches of a power pole.
The accident happened on a downhill section of Pine Mountain Rd at North Ipswich at 11.30pm.
When police arrived Smiles admitted what she did was "utterly stupid and irresponsible" - something police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Kevin Carmont echoed.
"It is a matter of utter stupidity - a deliberate act, not a momentary lapse, no unforseen negligence," Snr Sgt Carmont said. "It was an act to clearly scare these people.
"While prison might be a last resort (for first-time offenders) - driving on this occasion is inexcusable and the protection of the community is paramount."
Magistrate Michael Quinn said in his view, the offence was a serious example of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
"It was an extraordinarily dangerous decision to allow people to be in the boot of the vehicle," Mr Quinn said.
"You are indeed very fortunate you are not standing there charged with dangerous operation causing death or even manslaughter.
"A deliberate decision to overload and operate the vehicle in the most dangerous and irresponsible way - a deterrent penalty is necessary."
Mr Quinn said despite Smiles being a young person the protection of the public was paramount.
He sentenced her to six months prison, wholly suspended for 18 months.
Defence barrister Scott Neaves said because his client only had her licence for two days before the accident she was only used to driving with her parents or a driving instructor.
Mr Neaves said when put in a carload of her peers, coupled with her immaturity and lack of experience, Smiles had acted "out of character".
Mr Neaves tendered character references to the court that said Smiles was normally a responsible, reliable and dependable person, which Mr Quinn accepted.
Mr Quinn said the high number of fatalities on the road was prevalent in Smiles' age group.