A SOUTH GRAFTON man has been jailed for driving drunkenly through a public park to escape being captured by police.
Stephen Alan Cooper, of Melaleuca Way, was sentenced to 12 months jail on Monday after pleading guilty to high-range drink-driving.
It was the fifth time the 32-year-old had been convicted of drink-driving and his third in the high-range.
Cooper fought back tears as he was led out of the Grafton Courthouse and down to the police cells to begin serving his sentence.
His lawyer, Neil Johnson, had pleaded earlier for leniency, saying Cooper was a dedicated family man but also an alcoholic.
On the night of the offence, Cooper was driving on Rushforth Road, South Grafton, when police clocked him speeding. Police activated their lights but Cooper sped past them and down other streets.
When he got to Angophora Way, adjoining Bob Liddiard Park, Cooper drove onto the footpath and over two metal poles designed to stop vehicles entering the park.
Cooper continued to drive at speed through the park, across pedestrian footpaths, until his car got stuck on metal poles blocking vehicles at the other end of the park.
He ran away and jumped over fences into people's properties, before returning back through the park and making his way home.
Police arrived soon after and arrested him. Cooper was found to have a blood alcohol reading of 0.165 - more than three times the legal alcohol limit.
Police said Cooper was unsteady on his feet, his speech was slurred and he smelt strongly of alcohol. He could not tell police where he'd been or what alcohol he had consumed.
Police found half a carton of beer on the front passenger seat of his car and empty beer bottles on the floor.
Cooper was sentenced to 12 months jail with nine months non-parole and disqualified from driving for three years.
He was disqualified a further two years for a charge of dangerous driving.
In sentencing, Magistrate Kim Pogson told Cooper his actions could have resulted in serious injury.
He said Cooper had used up all his chances for leniency and a custodial sentence was appropriate.
“His last suspended sentence did not deter him at all,” the magistrate said.