Sam Sue Harris

Man's decision to drink drive ends in mate's death

EN ROUTE to Airlie Beach from Monto to play golf, Samuel Casey Doust made a reckless and tragic decision to drive.

He had been drinking the night before and woke after two hours sleep. It was a life altering call to get behind the wheel.

When his Nissan Narvara slammed into a tree near Moranbah on January 15 last year, Doust attempted to resuscitate his friend and front seat passenger.

His attempts were futile and he died at the scene.

While Doust's decision to play golf was spontaneous and while he did everything in his power to help revive his friend, his blood alcohol reading of 0.143 tells a different story.

On Wednesday, with friends and family sitting in a packed and sombre courtroom, Doust pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death while affected by intoxication.

The court heard Doust was not speeding when he approached the corner of the accident but that he missed the advisory slow down speed limit sign and subsequently reacted too late.

To his credit, Doust cooperated with police in every instance.

Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips asked for a five to seven-year sentence.

Defence barrister David James agreed to the Crown's request but argued a number of features that put it towards the bottom of the range.

"He has shown significant remorse and knows his poor decision making is what resulted in the tragic death," James told the court.

"There was no intention for reckless driving, the dangerous driving was not prolonged.

"No leaving the scene or failure to offer assistance. He gave immediate cooperation and support and his prospects of rehabilitation are high."

Judge Michael Burnett matter of factly described the accident, which left the community in turmoil.

"A life has been lost, laws broken and nothing can put it back together again," Burnett succinctly told the court.

"You made a very bad decision that evening.

"Your ability to drive was impaired, elements of tiredness associated are unquestionable following a day's work and lack of suitable rest.

"No other reason could be attributed to the accident, the road and weather conditions were good. And the consequences have been devastating."

Judge Burnett wished for his sentence to act as a warning, particularly to country drivers.

"This sentence should and must act as a warning," he said.


"It is unfortunate but not uncommon that we see you before the court."

Judge Burnett had no doubt in his mind that the now 24-year-old indicated "genuine remorse and regret".

Doust was dealt a five year sentence, suspended after 18 months. He will be disqualified from driving for two years. A conviction was recorded.

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