Tears from ice ‘middle man’ after car smash
KRISTAL Johnston's voice barely wavered as she told a Rockhampton courtroom how the actions of one man changed her life, after he made the foolish decision to drive while high on meth.
That man, Mathew Pinch, cried throughout his appearance in Rockhampton's Supreme Court, where he pleaded guilty to trafficking drugs, possessing items and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.
Since October 9, 2014 Miss Johnston has been paying for the consequences of Pinch's decision to drive while high on ice, which he started using while working on Curtis Island.
Justice Duncan McMeekin said it was a miracle Pinch did not kill her.
He said Pinch was the third person that week he had dealt with who told him they became addicted to ice while working on the island.
"The simple fact is, as grievous as Miss Johnston's injuries are, it's a miracle you didn't kill her, someone else, or yourself," he said.
The court heard that Pinch was driving for around 35 minutes before he reached the Gladstone-Benaraby Rd around 5.30am, crossed to the wrong side of the road and ploughed into Miss Johnston's car.
Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips told the court the doctor who did Pinch's blood test said he had the second highest drug reading he had ever seen in a living driver.
Miss Johnston, 33 was working as a firefighter in Gladstone, was up for a promotion to station officer and was also a gifted athlete before the accident, competing in rugby league, squash, body sculpting and marathon running.
Her physical injuries, which led to an extended stay in an intensive care unit, two surgeries on her knee and extensive rehabilitation, have meant she has been unable to progress in her career.
She also had to postpone her wedding because she and her partner had to use their savings to cover medical bills and postpone having children because carrying a baby would be detrimental to her knee injury.
She got emotional as she told the court experts have predicted she may never return to her pre-trauma ability.
"I am a good person, I am an innocent person, and your actions have impacted on my life, my family's lives and my friends' lives," she said.
"I understand you were under the influence of illicit drugs at the time of the accident. I also understand that addiction is a disease.
"It is my request that you access rehabilitation so you don't hurt or jeopardise the lives of anyone else."
Defence barrister Maree Willey said Pinch moved to Gladstone from Victoria in February 2013 to work at Port Curtis Island and began to use meth to stay awake, after finding the work on Curtis island stressful.
"Prior to working at Port Curtis he was not a user of drugs," she said.
Pinch resigned in July 2014 and received a payout, but after the money ran out he was approached by associates from Port Curtis about becoming a middle man in their drug operation.
For around a month or two he was involved in that trafficking operation, making no financial profit but taking some drugs for himself instead.
He also exchanged meth for stolen property, including a camera and firearms.
Barrister Willey said the accident was a wake-up call for Pinch, who began drug counselling after the incident.
His pregnant partner of 16 years, who returned to Victoria with their two children after discovering his drug use, was in court to to support him.
He was sentenced to three years jail for trafficking and four and a half years for dangerous driving, to be served concurrently.
The sentence will be suspended after serving 18 months, with an operational period of five years.
His license was also disqualified absolutely.