News

Priest could face jail time

Father Peter Jones outside Maclean Local Court where he faced charges of having driven with a blood-alcohol content of 0.341.
Father Peter Jones outside Maclean Local Court where he faced charges of having driven with a blood-alcohol content of 0.341. Adam Hourigan

MAGISTRATE Shane McAnulty hinted in Maclean Local Court on Tuesday that St Patrick's Church parish priest Father Peter Jones could face jail time for driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.341 on October 19 - his second high-range PCA offence.

Having pleaded guilty to driving almost seven times over the legal limit, the 58-year-old South Grafton priest received a stern warning from Mr McAnulty.

"This is a serious matter because the reading is so high," Mr McAnulty said.

"Ordinarily, people with a reading that high should expect to go to jail."

"It was such a high reading that it is inconceivable that a person could drive (in that state)."

Mr McAnulty said the fact that it was Fr Jones' second high-range PCA offence was causing him "some concern" and suggested the holy man may need to do some "soul searching" on his behaviour.

Fr Jones was convicted of high range PCA in May, 2001 at Macksville.

Barrister Peter O'Connor said he was seeking a section nine or section 12 (good behaviour) bond for Fr Jones.

Mr McAnulty requested a pre-sentence report and adjourned the matter to February 15 in Maclean Local Court for sentencing.

Police facts tendered to the court said Fr Jones was driving north on the Pacific Hwy at Cowper about 1.15pm on Wednesday, October 19 when a driver rang police concerned that the white Toyota Camry Fr Jones was driving was being driven unsafely.

A police patrol car waited for Fr Jones at Ferry Park, Maclean and followed him for a short time.

After some road works, police activated lights and sirens.

"While following the driver police also observed the driver's actions to be swerving left to right all over the road," said Senior Constable Stephen Bennett in his report.

"The driver appeared to not see police and continued along the highway."

Fr Jones eventually pulled over on Yamba Rd under the Harwood Bridge and stumbled next to his car, the evidence said.

Asked why he didn't pull over, Fr Jones indicated he was looking for a safe spot to pull over.

"It should be noted that there were numerous spots on the highway to stop," Sen Cnst Bennett said.

Police smelt alcohol on Fr Jones breath and noted he was sweaty, shaky and unsteady on his feet.

A roadside breath test returned a positive reading but the figure was crossed out of the police evidence.

At Maclean Police Station, Fr Jones returned a reading of 0.341.

Fr Jones told police that he had had his first drink at 12.30pm that same day, 45 minutes before he was spotted by a concerned driver at Cowper and that he could not remember his last drink.

Police said Fr Jones' actions posed a very high degree of danger to himself and other road users.

Outside Maclean Local Court yesterday, Fr Jones' solicitor Frank Hannigan said the veteran parish priest had been seeking rehabilitation for his alcohol addiction at the St John of God facility in Sydney and had not had a drink since the incident.

Asked whether Fr Jones would remain St Patrick's parish priest, Mr Hannigan said that would be a matter for the bishop but expected such a decision would be pending the outcome of the court.

Lismore Diocese spokesman Fr Peter Karam said yesterday the diocese had no comment on the case "at this stage".

Topics:  alcohol arrest court drink driving jail



Skin clinic swims for charity

Toby Campbell, Natalie Le Breton, Dr Mark Groves and Tanya Priest from the Yamba Skin Clinic who organised the swim to raise money for Lower Clarence Relay for Life.

Swimming fundraiser a success for Yamba Skin Clinic

WIN a fishing trip, $5000 BCF voucher and get free stuff

Want to catch one of these big fellas!? Get your name into our competition to win the ultimate fishing holiday!

WERE running a stack of reely incredible giveaways!

Strange Politics: Follow Pauline on high and low roads

No need to choose - Pauline takes the high and low roads.

Enter Pauline Hanson - the political phoenix

Local Partners

Lifeguards commended after rescuing eight at Pippi

Lifeguards Harry Fahey and Mikey Gilliman talk about their 'textbook rescue' of eight swimmers while on patrol at Pippi Beach


5 things to do this weekend

Lower Clarence Relay for Life Swim

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Artist program to link to gallery theme

VALUABLE STINT: Indigenous artist Karla Dickens at work in Grafton Regional Gallery's studio during her 2010 artist's residency.

Gallery encouraging indigenous artists to take up residency offer

Jennifer Aniston wants to return to TV

Jennifer Aniston is desperate to make a return to TV

Madonna hopes for election unity

Madonna hopes Donald Trump's election will "bring people together"

JK Rowling rules out Cursed Child trilogy

JK Rowling has ruled out a 'Cursed Child' movie trilogy

Buckley's chance in psychological thriller

James McAvoy and Betty Buckley in a scene from the movie Split.

Broadway veteran back on big screen with James McAvoy

Daniel MacPherson: acting’s a bit like channel surfing

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson in a scene from the American TV series APB.

THE Aussie export talks about making his mark in the US.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Lisa Marie Woodham will be giving readings in Gladstone until Saturday January 21.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

Rates safe from land value hike

DRIVING GROWTH: The Pacific Highway upgrade has been linked to improved land values.

Figures up in latest valuer-general report

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!