Drunk and 19, with four friends' lives in his hands, Bradley Watson ignored the sirens behind him and stepped on the accelerator.
The Port Kembla teen would later tell police he had knocked back 10 bottles of alcoholic cider in the hours leading to the pre-dawn chase through Wollongong.
Police spotted Watson’s black Volkswagen Golf travelling west on Smith Street about 3.45am on New Year’s Day, and attempted to pull him over for a roadside breath test.
Instead, Watson accelerated.
He turned without warning onto Keira Lane and sped down the narrow roadway, despite the speed humps.
Ignoring the lights and sirens behind him, he later crossed onto the wrong side of Young Street, before coming unstuck at the intersection with Smith Street as he attempted a righthand turn at high speed.
The car skidded and careered off-course, mounting the gutter and slamming into a parked Nissan X-Trail, sustaining serious damage before all five men hurriedly got out.
Police took hold of the protesting Watson and brought him to the ground to be handcuffed.
He refused a breath test at first, but soon submitted and returned a positive reading.
Police found Watson to be “moderately” drunk. “You guys are fast,” he told them. “I saw you put your indicator on so I went for it. You were catching up to me at the corners. I kept looking in my rearview and you just kept getting closer. I should have pulled over.”
He later returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.097.
Watson appeared at Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, charged over the pursuit, mid-range drink driving and not complying with the conditions of his provisional license, which allow him to carry one passenger aged under 21 – not four - after 11pm.
The court heard Watson had accrued 24 demerit points in the two years he had held the license.
Defence lawyer Jonathan Kearney told the court his client had lost his job as a consequence of losing his license. He submitted glowing character references and told how Watson had been an attentive student at the traffic offender’s program he had recently completed.
“He was so taken aback by the [course] content he stayed back to speak to the highway patrol officer … such was his awakening – for lack of a better word – of his actions,” Mr Kearney told the court.
Magistrate Susan McGowan deemed the chase “spectacular”. She noted Watson’s clean criminal history but remained unimpressed by his choices, and his lack of smarts.
“People are always sorry when they’re sprung,” she said. “The chances of not getting detected on New Year’s Eve in downtown Wollongong are zero.”
“Nobody wants me to go on about how dangerous it is, and how we don’t want to see a young man splattered across the side of the road,” she added, before cutting to the sentence.
Watson was fined $350 for the license breach, and disqualified for nine months and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond, for the drink-driving.
Under Skye’s Law, he was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.