A man has faced Inverell Local Court after police caught him driving a delivery truck full of milk with high levels of alcohol in his system.
Inverell's Stephen John Manuel, 53, was charged with his first offence of high-range drink-driving and appeared before magistrate Holly Kemp on Thursday.
Facts tendered to court outlined that Manuel had told police he'd "had a gutful last night" when they pulled him over on June 4, just before 10am.
"Wow," was magistrate Kemp's reaction as she read over the events of that morning.
Police had happened to be following the white Pantec truck on Bundarra Road in Gilgai, when they saw it swerve all over the road, crossing the double lines several times. The truck was also tailgating a white ute.
Manuel was pulled over, questioned and returned a positive breath test. After his arrest and breath analysis back at the Inverell Station, which returned a reading of 0.195, Manuel said he'd had 20 cans of 375ml full strength beer.
The first was consumed on the Thursday before at 2pm, and his last that morning at 9am.
"I had to go to work mate," he said to the officer who asked him why he'd been driving.
His solicitor, Chris Leahy, said Manuel had lost his job from the resulting driver's license suspension.
Mr Leahy said Manuel had been taking steps to get a better grip on his anxiety and PTSD issues, seeking assistance from Centacare, as well as from "the local drug and alcohol department in Inverell".
"He is acutely aware a period of full time custody is on the cards," he said to magistrate Kemp.
"It was truly alarming and it takes my breath away. It could have been catastrophic," she said to Manuel during sentencing.
While his early pleas of guilty, his abstinence from alcohol since the event, and his "entrenchment" in counselling served him well, she said the court held concerns over two other instances of "similar" drink-driving matters on his record: one mid-range in 1996 and one low-range in 2006.
She placed him on a supervised Intensive Corrections Order for 12 months. He was disqualified for six months to then have the interlock device fitted for two years.
He was also ordered to complete 60 hours of community service to "give back to the community and to serve as a reminder... of the harm that could've been done."
Manuel was also ordered to abstain from alcohol for six months, and take part in any rehabilitation or treatment programs offered.
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