Mt Warrigal man sentenced over boozy post-fireworks crash on Australia Day

Australia Day crowds were just leaving Belmore Basin when the drunk driver clipped another vehicle on a busy street.
Australia Day crowds were just leaving Belmore Basin when the drunk driver clipped another vehicle on a busy street.

A Mt Warrigal man has confessed to driving drunk through post-fireworks crowds at Belmore Basin on Australia Day before his car collided with a vehicle carrying a family of four.

Ivan Anthony Michael Azabal was convicted of mid-range drink driving and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service work during a humbling appearance in Wollongong Local Court last week.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart labelled Azabal’s behaviour on the “appalling”, saying what he did was “unforgivable”.

“There were lots of people around and you come into contact with another vehicle,” he said.

“That vehicle contained a passenger who was 38 weeks pregnant. “This is an appalling set of facts.”

Court documents said Azabal had consumed an unknown amount of alcohol at his home before getting behind the wheel of his car black Holden HSV sedan that night.

He was driving on Corrimal Street amid the post-fireworks crowd when he clipped the front of the family’s vehicle while trying to squeeze between it and a council garbage truck.

The entire incident was caught on CCTV footage.

The driver of the second vehicle dragged Azabal out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived.

Azabal became aggressive towards officers who had to handcuff him while they carried out investigations.

He was then taken back to Wollongong Police Station where his breath test returned a reading of 0.143 – almost three times the legal alcohol limit.

Police said Azabal became antagonistic while in the holding cells, varying between “sobbing uncontrollably” and aggressively threatening police.

Azabal’s lawyer told the court last week his client had been mourning the death of a family member at the time and wasn’t coping, however said he was now getting regular treatment from a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

As part of the community service order, Azabal must undergo a sober driving course.