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Jail for driver high on pot who caused fatal crash

HIGH on marijuana, and with a cocktail of prescription medication in his system, Hew Reed Lewis, 31, got behind the wheel.

It was about 7.40pm on June 6, 2014, when Lewis turned on to Rosedale Rd from a side road and drove a short distance before failing to negotiate a corner.

He crossed on to the wrong side of the road and into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

The head-on crash instantly killed 51-year-old Christopher David Semb (pictured), while Lewis suffered head injuries which left him in a Brisbane hospital intensive care unit for five days.

In Bundaberg District Court on Friday, Lewis pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing death while adversely affected.

Gladstone man Chris Semb was killed on Rosedale Rd by a 31-year-old driving high on prescription drugs and marijuana.
Gladstone man Chris Semb was killed on Rosedale Rd by a 31-year-old driving high on prescription drugs and marijuana. Carolyn Booth

 

Crown prosecutor David Finch said Lewis made the choice to voluntarily consume the marijuana before getting behind the wheel.

"It has had the direct consequence where another road user has lost their life," he said.

That life was Mr Semb's, a husband, father, son, and grandfather. His family was in court to hear the sentence yesterday. Some sat in the back of the court room while others watched via videolink from New Zealand.

Defence barrister James Godbolt said was it evident from the medical evidence that Lewis's ability to drive a car was impaired due to the level of marijuana in his blood, but that the level of impairment was impossible to say.

He said while his client suffered "traumatic flashbacks", he had very little memory of the crash and was "deeply and genuinely sorry for what occurred".

Mr Godbolt said Lewis had struggled with substance addiction for some years after being exposed to marijuana as a child.

Lewis was visibly upset as Judge Fleur Kingham delivered the sentence.

She said the seriousness of the offence was categorised by three things - the dreadful consequence, the deliberate decision by Lewis to drive and the fact that he was impaired.

"You will have to live for the rest of your life with the consequences of your actions," Judge Kingham told Lewis.

She sentenced him to five years jail with a parole eligibility date set at May 12 next year.

Topics:  drug driving fatality hew reed lewis marijuana prison



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