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Australia Redland Mayor Karen Williams pleads guilty to drink driving charges

04:51  01 august  2022
04:51  01 august  2022 Source:   abc.net.au

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Redland Mayor Karen Williams had her licence revoked for six months. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC NEWS Redland Mayor Karen Williams had her licence revoked for six months. (Supplied)

Redland Mayor Karen Williams has been sentenced to 80 hours of community service and had her licence disqualified for six months after pleading guilty to drink driving.

The south-east Queensland Mayor appeared in Cleveland Magistrates Court this morning, charged with being more than three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit when she crashed her car on June 23.

The court heard Ms Williams crossed four lanes of traffic before she left the road, entered a ditch and struck a tree in the single-vehicle incident at the intersection of Queens and Wellington Streets in Cleveland.

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Her blood alcohol concentration was 0.177, more than three times the limit.

She was disqualified from driving for six months and had no conviction recorded.

In sentencing, Magistrate Deborah Vasta said there would be "a small number of very hurt people who will never forgive" the Mayor.

A small group of protesters, pushing for the mayor's resignation, gathered outside court this morning.

Magistrate Vasta said community service would help the Mayor overcome the betrayal felt by members of her community affected by road fatalities.

"This case has gathered a lot of public attention, condemnation and vitriol," she said.

"It seems to me that there is a group of people who feel very betrayed by your client's actions and behaviour and who may perceive your client to be a two-faced politician who has milked their grief for her own political gain.

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"It seems to me that there is a real desire to see your client punished more than the average drink driver and not just because she is mayor and should be held to a higher standard, because of what some people see as stunning hypocrisy and betrayal."

The court heard Ms Williams had consumed four glasses of wine prior to getting behind the wheel.

Messages were tendered in court showing dozens of vitriolic texts sent to the Mayor's phone, which included "very sad you didn't die in the crash" and "resign now you two faced b***h."

The Mayor and gallery, including road safety advocate Judy Lindsay, sat through a graphic road safety video.

Speaking outside court, Ms Williams described the incident as a "lapse of judgement" and said she would return to work later this week.

"I know that I will have to work very hard to regain the trust of my community and I'm absolutely committed to doing that. I will never put my family, my friends, my community and my council colleagues in this position again.

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"This was a single lapse of judgement in 18 years of service to my community. I know I have hard work to do and I will regain that trust as I return to work later this week."

One hundred and seventy-two people have died on Queensland's road this year — the highest toll in 30 years.

'No respect'

Among the protesters was road safety advocate Judy Lindsay, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2009.

"I think she needs to stand up and resign now," she said.

Ms Lindsay was in a Zoom meeting with Ms Williams, and other families who had lost loved ones to drunk drivers, prior to being caught drink driving.

"[It] just shows to me that she had no respect for me, my story or anybody else in the Zoom meeting that lost family members," she said

Ms Lindsay said this is a "really bad example of what happens in our community".

"I feel that for someone who is pushing for road safety in our community, she can't be in that position anymore."

Current councillor Adelia Berridge was also outside with the protesters advocating for Ms Williams's resignation.

"They are asking for the Mayor to resign, which is I believe the right thing to do," Ms Berridge said.

"How can we aspire to a civic leader who we are seeing drink driving at a very high range?"

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