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Drink-driver (21) narrowly avoids prison sentence

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A 21-YEAR-OLD man has narrowly avoided going to prison after crashing his car while drunk for the second time in three years.

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Asa Venton appeared in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday after pleading guilty to drink-driving.

Centenier João Camara, reading out the facts of the case, said that at 1am on 22 June, police were called to a single-vehicle accident in St Peter’s Valley.

On arrival, the officer found Venton’s red Ford Fiesta crashed into a bank and saw the defendant and his mother – whom the defendant had called following the crash – standing next to the vehicle.

Venton took a roadside breath test, which he failed, and was arrested and taken back to police headquarters, where a test gave a reading of 87mg of alcohol within 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

Venton has a previous drink-driving conviction from July 2017.

Advocate Adam Harrison, defending, said that his client had ‘given into temptation’ when he had been walking past his car at Patriotic Street car park and asked the court to impose community service. He added that Venton had been using alcohol as a coping mechanism following a previous unrelated incident.

‘In doing so, he accepts that he put himself and other road users at risk. He has one relevant previous conviction but no more others, he has expressed remorse, which is genuine, and does take responsibility for his actions,’ he said.

‘Also, his employer has provided a very positive letter and spoken very highly of him and says that he is honest and trustworthy and is highly thought of by their clients. Any custodial sentence will see him lose his employment and accommodation and derail the life he has built so far.

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‘He is 21 years old and no part of the Young Offenders Law is available to him but I would say that you can take that into account. It is often said that the iron curtain does not come down when someone crosses the age threshold.’

In sentencing, Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris told Venton that he did not want to see him back in the courtroom and that he had ‘already seen enough’.

‘There is no question about your integrity but you have demonstrated, for the second occasion, one of your particular weaknesses and you have to deal with that,’ he said.

‘Clearly you have very strong support from your family and good references and, in going to prison, you would lose your home and job but I am sure you would be able to find work elsewhere. Sometimes the key message needs to be that you have got to stop.

‘By the smallest of degrees I will allow you to avoid imprisonment at this stage but if you step out of line with either community service or probation, you will be back here and you will likely go to prison.’

Venton was also banned from driving for four years and sentenced to 120 hours’ community service and six months’ probation.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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