Drink-driver hits car, flattens mailbox, blames partner
A BRAZILIAN English teacher who crashed into a car and ran down a mailbox in Mackay while driving drunk shifted the blame to her partner
Gabriela Cerqueire Correa only moved to Mackay ten months ago and hopes to trade her tourist Visa in for a work Visa, a Mackay court was told.
Correa fronted Mackay Magistrates Court, pleading guilty to driving under the influence of liquor and obstructing police on December 23 last year in Alfred and Tennyson Streets in Mackay.
The 30-year-old, who had no prior Australian criminal and traffic history, was represented on Monday by solicitor Geoff Govey from Taylor's Solicitors.
Prosecutor Anna Ellis said on the night in question Correa had been drinking in Mackay city centre.
Police patrolling around Alfred St about 2am received reports of a "vehicle driving erratically, causing damage to property".
A letterbox had been flattened on Alfred St and a vehicle had been collided with in Tennyson St.
Ms Ellis said police caught up with Correa in Gordon St, about 50m from her home, standing behind the front passenger door of a stationary car, which had its engine running and lights on.
"The defendant told police that she and her partner had been in the vehicle and had been driving back from a night out drinking ... ," she said.
"The defendant said it was her partner who had been the one driving the vehicle at the time of the incident."
Police repeatedly questioned Correa - who was slurring, unsteady on her feet and smelt of alcohol - if she had been driving, but she continued to blame her partner.
Ms Ellis said officers spoke with Correa's partner out the front of the couple's home, but he "was also intoxicated and not forthcoming with any police enquiries".
Police, who noticed the car was registered in Correa's partner's name, "reasonably suspected" he was the driver and charged him with high-range drink driving.
However, about two months later on February 23, Correa declared in a statement she was driving the car and charges against her partner were dropped.
She admitted to hitting the parked vehicle and the mailbox after drinking, but told police "it's because she's not used to driving in Australia on the wrong side of the road".
Mr Govey said Correa told him she drank about four beers while out in the city centre and had panicked when confronted by police.
The court was told Correa suffered anxiety and depression and had previously been seeing a psychologist.
Mr Govey described Correa as a Brazilian who had been studying as a journalist and worked as an English teacher.
Correa moved to Mackay once she met her partner and had been trying to obtain a work Visa, he said.
Several character references were tendered and Mr Govey said Correa had volunteered for a number of Mackay organisations, such as Pioneer Valley Cricket Club.
When questioned by Magistrate Nerida Wilson, Mr Govey conceded Correa had not offered to pay for property she damaged.
Ms Wilson said the circumstances - "sending them (police) on a merry chase" - did not reflect well on Correa's character.
She considered Correa's lack of criminal or traffic record, guilty plea, references tendered and lack of restitutions.
Correa was disqualified from driving for a year, fined $1750 and a conviction was only recorded for the drink driving charge.