GUILTY: Shane Cornish outside Bundaberg Courthouse.
GUILTY: Shane Cornish outside Bundaberg Courthouse.

Iced-up driver dodges death on highway

SHANE Cornish consumed the drug speed then hopped behind the wheel, despite being suspended from driving.

Police were alerted near Childers after a series of emergency calls from drivers on the Bruce Hwy frightened by his erratic driving.

Cornish's Ford sedan was seen crossing double lines towards oncoming traffic and crossing on to the wrong side of the road. He was also seen slumped over the steering wheel.

Police say he narrowly avoided driving down an embankment.

Drivers were flicking their headlights in warning at police in an approaching car after seeing Cornish "slumped forward, head just above the dash" as his car crossed unbroken lines towards them.

Cornish was driving north on the afternoon of April 28, just hours after Gympie police placed him on a 24-hour licence suspension at 11.30am, warning him not to drive.

He was heading to Hervey Bay but had driven past the turn-off.

Lawyer Lavonda Maloy told Bundaberg Magistrates Court that Cornish realised the danger he had placed other people in.

"He was not thinking straight because of substance abuse," Ms Maloy said.

She said Cornish had health issues, including mental health, and asked for a sentence of probation.

However, magistrate Belinda Merrin said jail was not out of the question because the matter was so serious, saying mental health issues were not unusual in people who self-medicated.

Cornish, 39, pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while on drugs; unlicensed driving; and drug driving.

Ms Merrin said Cornish had apparently digested speed or ice after his release by police that morning, and had then got back into his car and driven.

She said Cornish told police when pulled up at 3.30pm that he had injected amphetamine.

She said it was clear he had not been affected by methylamphetamine at 11.30am but was at 3.30pm he was found to have both methylamphetamine and marijuana in his system.

"I'm told by police you did take speed," Ms Merrin said.

"My view is that you did this after being released by police," she said.

"(Your) driving with an intoxicating substance is a serious example of that as it was protracted and you had already been stopped by police that day and told not to drive."

Ms Merrin told the Cornish it was "extraordinarily fortunate" he survived and did not injure anyone.

She accepted he had undertaken counselling and drug programs, and gained insight into his illicit drug use problems.

Cornish was sentenced to four months jail, wholly suspended for 12 months, and was disqualified from driving for six months and fined $550.



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