Sarah Winston pleaded guilty to a five charges, including getting behind the wheel on drugs. File Photo.
Sarah Winston pleaded guilty to a five charges, including getting behind the wheel on drugs. File Photo.

‘DANGEROUS’: Teen’s ‘high-end’ drug drive results in close call

IF NOT for some skilful manoeuvring from a driver travelling in the opposite direction, the consequences of Sarah Winston’s “dangerous” drug drive could have been dire.

Appearing before Kingaroy Magistrates Court, Winston pleaded guilty to five charges including possessing dangerous drugs, unlawful possession of a controlled drug, dangerous operation of a vehicle, driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance, and obstructing a police officer.

On August 12 at Tewantin, police observed a car reversing out of a driveway onto a busy street, without appearing to check for oncoming traffic.

“When it reversed out it drove along the street at speed. It was observed veering to the right towards an oncoming vehicle before it quickly corrected and continued on,” police prosecutor Sergeant Pepe Gangemi said.

“As it turned left onto Poinciana Ave, it mounted the centre island before continuing toward the township.”

“It was intercepted. The defendant was the driver. It was apparent she was under the influence of drugs - watery eyes, slurred speech. (The drug test) has come back with a 0.64 reading, that was meth or MDMA, which is a high end level of concentration.”

Police spoke to the driver of the vehicle the defendant‘s car had veered toward, who said he had to take “evasive action” to avoid a head on crash.

Sgt Gangemi said when Winston was intercepted by the police, she was “uncooperative” and had to forcibly be removed from the vehicle.

While officers attempted to place her in the police vehicle she screamed profanities at them, calling them “c-nts”, and swung punches at them, Sgt Gangemi told the court.

Following a search of her vehicle, officers located 3 grams of cannabis and cannabis seeds.

The stand alone charge was the result of a search warrant at a Tewantin address. Winston was found in possession of Lyrica, the generic version of the prescription drug Pregabalin, which is frequently used to treat epilepsy.

Defence lawyer Jay Rose said Winston has been engaged with mental health for a number of years, and regularly reviewed by a psychologist in Toowoomba. She had previously been diagnosed with PTSD and OCD.

Ms Rose said she sought a legal prescription for the controlled drug Lyrica. She has been unable to attain one, so she purchased them from a friend to help her sleep.

“With respect to the dangerous driving, driving under the influence, and obstructing police, on that day she was in the company of her boyfriend, who had a drug raid in his house. He’s a regular drug taker and introduced her to taking ecstasy.”

“She thought she’d taken LSD, but she’s now not sure.”

Winston informed Ms Rose that despite pleading guilty to possessing dangerous and controlled drugs, the Xanax, Lyrica, cannabis, and cannabis seeds found in her possession belonged to her boyfriend.

“It’s sad to see the impact of drugs on a very young person, who already has mental health issues,” Ms Rose said.

While he took into account Winston’s early plea of guilty, Magistrate Barry Barrett said it cannot be claimed the defendant cooperated with police, given the obstruct charge.

“You’re a young, first-time offender, but that said, these are serious offences,” he said.

“You’re driving was dangerous. You’ve driven into the path of another driver who had to veer to avoid a collision and then mounted the centre island in the township further on.”

“You have mental health issues and immaturely sort the prescriptions of others.”

“You’ve made poor choices and dangerous choices.”

Magistrate Barrett placed Winston on a six-month period of probation. For the dangerous operation and driving under the influence, she was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver‘s license for a total of 12 months.

No convictions were recorded.