Craig Bartlem-Long leaves Ipswich Courthouse.
Craig Bartlem-Long leaves Ipswich Courthouse. Ross Irby

Oil drips lead cops to fence-crash tradie

OIL splatters along a road left an easy trail for police to follow - leading officers from a crash scene at a hockey field to a car repair garage.

Police found a tradie and his crumpled black Toyota at the garage.

Electrician Craig Bartlem-Long blamed the smash on it being the first time he was behind the wheel following the Toyota's conversion from manual to automatic transmission.

The Toyota had crashed through a fence around Ipswich hockey fields at Raceview.

Craig Anthony Bartlem-Long, 27, from Flinders View, pleaded guilty in Ipswich Magistrates Court to driving without due care and attention at Raceview on Friday, August 3, 2018.

Prosecutor, Senior Constable Dave Shelton said the crash happened at 7.20pm.

Leaking engine fluid and debris was seen but the vehicle had disappeared.

Witnesses told police they had seen two men attach straps and then tow the damaged vehicle to a business work shed.

"Officers followed the oil trail to a shed. The damaged vehicle was inside," Sen-Const Shelton said.

"He (Bartlem-Long) identified himself as being the driver."

Bartlem-Long told police he lost control after making a turn.

Witnesses told police they heard the sounds of tyres screeching and saw the Toyota crash into the fence.

Defence lawyer Blake Fraser said Bartlem-Long thought there was no need to contact police and that he had to simply tow the Toyota away because only a fence had been damaged.

Police seized and mechanically tested the Toyota but found no defects.

"He instructs that he made a gearbox conversion from manual to auto. And on that night it was the first time he'd driven it," Mr Fraser said.

"He accelerated and the auto kicked back into first gear. It lost traction and the car spun out and into the fence."

Bartlem-Long had since taken it upon himself to complete a traffic offenders program which had provided insight into what a momentary lapse of judgment had with a motor vehicle.

Magistrate Donna MacCallum fined him $500 - but took no action against his driver's licence.