Ross Irby

Passengers thought they were going to die

DRIVER James McDonald ignored the frightened pleas of his passengers to slow down as he sped along until a handbrake turn sent his purple Honda into a street lamp pole.

The lamp fell, hitting an oncoming car.

A sheepish McDonald, 20, pleaded guilty in Gladstone Magistrates Court to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, driving above the zero alcohol limit for a provisional driver and failing to stop.

McDonald was fined $2500 for his offending and was lambasted by magistrate Mark Morrow, who said his driving was appalling and he'd put lives at risk.

Prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens said McDonald was driving at 10.25pm on the Dawson Hwy at Clinton on August 7 when he entered Kirkwood Rd at excessive speed.

He said McDonald pulled on his handbrake and lost control of his car, which struck a lamp pole, causing it to fall over and hit an oncoming car.

McDonald reversed his car and drove off.

Sgt Stevens said a frightened passenger in McDonald's car phoned police asking for help.

The man accused McDonald of driving 140kmh in a 60kmh zone, telling police the three passengers had pleaded with him to slow down.

The passengers told police afterwards they had all feared for their safety.

"At one point they thought they were going to die," Sgt Stevens said.

When spoken too later that night, McDonald told police he had smoked cannabis.

However, a blood test proved negative for drugs but revealed alcohol in his system.

"He denied driving dangerously or at excessive speed. He says he was doing 25kmh when he saw an animal run across the road and he swerved and collided with the street lamp," Sgt Stevens said. "He says he failed to stop because he panicked."

Mr Morrow told McDonald he was lucky no one was killed.

"You come back again and I will jail you," he said.

McDonald is disqualified from driving for 15 months.

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