Drink driver crashes into parked vehicle after deadly caravan fire

A 66-year-old Millingandi woman wanting a closer look at a burning property has been convicted of drink driving after she reversed into a parked NRMA vehicle.

The incident took place outside the Merimbula Lake Holiday Park where a man was killed in a caravan fire in December.

Kaye Patricia Beutel failed a roadside breath test after the incident, and later recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.124. She was charged with mid-range drink driving.

“She’s not a good reverser,” her defence lawyer told magistrate David O’Connor in Bega Local Court on Tuesday following her guilty plea.

Her defence told the court Beutel’s drinking was due to the stress of finding out earlier in the day a close friend was terminally ill.

“I’m of the view it was the alcohol not distressing circumstances,” magistrate O’Connor told Beutel when handing down his decision.

The court was told she “sipped on chardonnay” while watching cricket on television on the day of her arrest, then noticed black smoke out her window. She jumped in her car and, after being told by the manager of her residence there was a fire next door, drove towards the scene.  As she approached police officers at the scene, they signaled for her to stop and advised her to park nearby as a crowd was gathering at the park’s entrance.

As Buetel reversed her car she crashed into a stationary NRMA vehicle, and as she attempted to move the car police yelled at her to stop in order to avoid her causing further damage.

At 4.40pm police observed the woman smelt of “intoxicating liquor” and following a breath test, she recorded a reading nearly three times the legal limit. The woman was disqualified from driving for six months, backdated to December 17 last year, and fined $600.

In other court matters, an Eden man charged with the alleged sexual assault of two children over a decade ago has had his court appearance adjourned until March 28 at Bega Local Court.

The court was told the 65-year-old man is currently in hospital in Canberra and was unable to attend  on Tuesday, February 14, when his matter was scheduled to be heard.

The man was charged with sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of indecent acts against a 13-year-old male between 2002 and 2003, one count of indecency with a 14-year-old male in 2001 and possessing an unauthorised and unregistered 0.303 rifle.