Facebook brag leads to arrest

TEENAGER John Charles Wheeler's bragging on popular social network site Facebook led police straight to his door.

The young driver bragged to friends that he had lost control of his car at high speed and left the scene after smashing through a Glenvale fence.

Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard Wheeler had celebrated his 17th birthday on December 29 by trying to “drift” a Toyota sedan at speed around a corner in Markelee St only to lose control and smash through a fence.

Wheeler, located by police on January 14 thanks to his Facebook entry, admitted to the offending driving and that the car was unregistered and uninsured, prosecutor Sergeant Greg Lewis said.

Police checks found Wheeler had been disqualified from driving for three months by a court just four days earlier.

Sgt Lewis said the arresting officers had gained the impression while speaking with Wheeler that the teen was amused that he'd been caught by Facebook.

As if that incident wasn't a wake-up call, Wheeler had taken a teenage mate in an unregistered, uninsured Toyota Camry with false number plates to Nobby where he rolled the car at speed while trying to take the hair-pin corner over the railway line about 12.15am, January 21.

Wheeler later admitted to police he had “flattened it” to 150kmh on the 60kmh street before trying to cross the railway line only to lose control and roll the car through the rail crossing lights and control box, leaving Queensland Rail with a $9785 damage bill.

Wheeler, who was again driving while disqualified at the time, told police the car belonged to his mate but retracted that two days later and admitted it was his, Sgt Lewis said.

Three nights later, Wheeler and a juvenile mate had stolen a car from Toowoomba Holden's holding yard to which they attached number plates stolen from another vehicle and went for a joy ride.

Police later that night caught Wheeler driving the stolen car in Cotswold Hills – again while disqualified.

Wheeler pleaded guilty to a total of 20 offences including dangerous driving, three counts of disqualified driving, a range of traffic violations and obstructing police.

His solicitor Phil Stainton said his client was on Centrelink payments and had little prospect of obtaining work in the near future and so would not be able to pay any restitution for damage if ordered.

His client had been running with a larger group of youths, some of whom were well known to the courts, but accepted his behaviour was “very stupid”, Mr Stainton submitted.

Taking into account his young age and that it was the first time Wheeler had been before the Magistrates Court, Magistrate Damian Carroll placed the teen on the maximum three years probation, ordered he do 240 hours community service and fined him a total $2200 which was converted to a fine/option order of 100 hours community service.

Wheeler was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for three years.

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