A drunk driver ignored the protests of his passengers that he was driving dangerously before he lost control and crashed the car near Darwin, killing a woman and seriously injuring two men.
Martin Shields, aged 19, but 18 at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty in the Northern Territory Supreme Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Janette Ellis, aged 30.
He also pleaded guilty to having caused serious harm to his 43-year-old uncle and a 19-year-old man.
A woman who was 34 weeks pregnant and was the only passenger wearing a seatbelt escaped serious injury along with her unborn baby.
Shields lost control of the car causing it to roll and land on its roof about 50km south of Darwin at about 2pm on January 24, 2019 during a 300km-plus trip to Katherine.
The group had been drinking heavily since about 10am that day.
Ms Ellis and the two men were thrown from the car.
Shields had collided with the back of a ute less than 15 minutes before but “drove away quickly without stopping or exchanging details due to his concern about police arriving”, Crown prosecutor Matthew Nathan told the court.
“He was witnessed speeding and swerving between lanes, merging into occupied lanes and leaving the roadway onto the dirt verge a number of times.
“The offender’s driving began to cause concern for passengers … however, he didn’t listen to their complaints that he should slow down and let someone else drive.”
The two men suffered horrific injuries, including a traumatic brain injury for Shields’ uncle Troy, along with numerous fractures to each of their spines, ribs and other damage.
Shields, who suffered a broken collarbone, had a blood alcohol level of .112 about three-and-a-half hours after the crash indicating it would have been higher.
The event caused controversy after Shields was arrested last year, when it was revealed that the troubled teen had breached a court order not to consume alcohol numerous times, the most recent two days before the crash.
That should have meant NT Government agency Territory Families alerted authorities so he was sent back to jail, after part of his sentence was suspended over a conviction for attempted sex intercourse without consent.
Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency defence lawyer Beth Wild, who is representing the indigenous Shields, indicated the failure of to fulfil their supervision role would be used in his defence.
Shields had answered the door intoxicated on January 15 and 22, breaching his order, but was left alone leading up to the fatal accident.
“It was very clear something needed to be done at that stage,” she said.
Justice Stephen Southwood ordered a pre-sentence assessment ahead of sentencing Shields, who has been in custody since last February, next month.
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