Driver charged with Braidwood crash ‘needs to address drug issues’

A woman charged with causing a Kings Highway crash that left five people in hospital has admitted responsibility, and said it was “about time I address my drug issues”.

Katrina West, 39, from Batemans Bay, is accused of being under the influence of ice when she fell asleep at the wheel near Braidwood, while returning home after facing an ACT court on an unrelated drug-driving charge.

She appeared in Queanbeyan Local Court via video link on Monday. She is facing three charges of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

Ms West’s defence lawyer, Rosemary Benet, indicated her client would plead guilty to the three charges. However, the police prosecutor told the court the investigation was ongoing and the nature of the charges could change.

Magistrate Michael Antrum said a plea at this point would be premature but accepted the intention of a guilty plea to the facts of the case as they were. He also rejected her bail application.

He said Ms West posed an unacceptable risk to the community, saying there was a risk she might commit another dangerous offence.

It is alleged Ms West used the drug ice on the morning of December 19 before driving to the ACT from Batemans Bay for her court case.

Police say Ms West fell asleep on her way home, about 14 kilometres from Braidwood, and drove into an oncoming SUV. The car following West then drove into the SUV as it veered across its path after the initial collision.

The car following Ms West contained Jerrabomberra resident TJ Campagna, his mother Alanna Davis and Christina Gailey. TJ was airlifted to Canberra Hospital, where he remains. Ms Davis and Mrs Gailey suffered injuries requiring treatment in hospital and a man and woman, both aged 68, from the SUV were also taken to hospital.

Ms West submitted a letter to the court to be considered in her bail application.

In the letter Ms West wrote, “I have admitted this accident was totally my fault and it’s about time that I address my drug issues.”

She said she was remorseful for her actions and assured the court she would abide by any conditions.

The police prosecutor told the court it was unclear how much Ms West’s drug use had impaired her driving, but it would have been a significant factor.

He said her decision to use drugs before driving to Canberra to face a drug driving charge was of enormous concern to the community.

Magistrate Antrum accepted Ms West was remorseful but said the offences presented a strong option of a full time custodial penalty, which was another reason bail was not granted.

Ms West is due back in court in February, when formal pleas are expected to be entered.

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