Drink driver who hit tree avoids jail term

Raymond Terrace Courthouse.
Raymond Terrace Courthouse.

SITTING in the driver’s seat of his mangled car, a deployed air bag resting against his body, Kenneth Maxwell Baker had no idea what had happened. 

“Did I hit a tree?,” Baker told two police officers, first on the scene just after midnight on July 8. 

“I can’t even remember hitting a tree.”

About 20 minutes earlier Baker, 53, had been driving along Marine Drive at Fingal Bay when he failed to veer right with the sweeping road, careering across a dirt verge, through a grass section and into a large tree.

The crash could have killed him. Police said he was “extremely lucky” to have avoided serious injury.

His car sustained significant damage, the airbags deployed and Baker was uninjured.

He was breath-tested at the scene and returned a positive result before being taken back to Nelson Bay police station, where he returned a blood-alcohol reading of 0.209 – more than four times the legal limit. 

Baker appeared in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Monday where he narrowly avoided a jail term after pleading guilty to high-range drink driving. 

It was his fifth drink driving offence and third high-range charge dating back to 1990, the court heard. 

His solicitor told the court Baker was having a hard time due to ongoing health problems, drank more than intended then made the “foolish” decision to drive. 

Magistrate Caleb Franklin said only a sentence of imprisonment could “adequately reflect the criminality and the need for both specific and general deterrence”.

But he ordered Baker serve his 10-month sentence by way of an intensive corrections order, which is a form of custodial sentence served in the community under the strict supervision of Corrective Services NSW.