A Port Kembla man who was five times the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his car into a Warrawong service station will avoid spending time behind bars after he was granted a suspended jail sentence yesterday.
Allen George Waretini pleaded guilty in Wollongong Local Court in June to drink-driving - the sixth such charge on his traffic record - and was sentenced to nine months' jail with a non-parole period of four months.
Wollongong District Court Judge Paul Conlon yesterday suspended the sentence to allow the 55-year-old to undergo further rehabilitation.
The court heard that on August 18 last year, an inebriated Waretini parked out the front of the BP service station at Warrawong about 4.50pm and went inside to buy cigarettes.
When he got back in his car he reversed the vehicle about three metres before stopping and revving the engine.
He then accelerated forward, ploughing through the front doors of the service station and smashing into a freezer and shelving inside the shop. The court heard the damage bill topped $45,000 and security guards had to be hired around the clock for a week until the building could be repaired.
Waretini was arrested at the scene and taken to Shellharbour Hospital, where a blood test revealed he had an alcohol reading of .278 - more than five times the legal limit.
His lawyer, Cathy Doosey, said Waretini had since completed a day rehabilitation program at Watershed drug and alcohol recovery and education centre. She argued for a lesser sentence to allow him to undergo further rehabilitation.
Judge Conlon granted him a suspended prison sentence on the condition he enter into a good behaviour bond and submit to the supervision of NSW Probation and Parole.
"I am satisfied in these circumstances that he seems to be taking some responsibility for his own rehabilitation," he said.
However, he warned Waretini: "If you go out and commit any offence that causes me to revoke the bond you won't be given any further leniency".