Drink driver gets jail for crash that injured mates

WAKING up in an intensive care unit, Leighton Phillip Ellson was worried he had killed someone.

The last thing he remembered about the car accident he caused while drink-driving was waking up on the side of Dawson Hwy and looking down at his wrist with a bone protruding.

Ellson, 36, was yesterday sentenced to four years imprisonment after pleading guilty to dangerous operation of a vehicle causing grievous bodily harm, in Gladstone District Court.

He also was convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol.

In the early hours of November 23, 2013, Ellson was behind the wheel of a Toyota ute, driving towards Gladstone after drinking for most of the evening prior.

One of his passengers had repeatedly asked him if he was in any condition to drive.

He had driven only 10km when he hit a traffic island near Jim Whyte Way, causing the vehicle to turn sideways, roll several times and come to rest against a pole.

Ellson and one of his passengers was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

He recorded a blood-alcohol content of 0.198, almost four times the legal limit.

The most severely injured passenger suffered several spinal fractures, which resulted in the insertion of titanium rods and screws.

He was in hospital for 25 days.

Judge Brendan Butler said the violence of the collision was extremely serious.

"These are injuries he (the passenger) will have to live with for the rest of his life," he said.

"You were significantly affected by alcohol and the consequences are extremely serious.."

Ellson has been convicted of drink-driving twice before.

A family friend told The Observer the incident was out of character for Ellson, who was typically "a kind and good natured man".

Judge Butler accepted Ellson was remorseful having suffered significant injuries, and the guilt of responsibility and losing the friendship of his two passengers.



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