A CANNONVALE man has been jailed after driving drunk, crashing into a palm tree and causing the death of a close friend. Grant Andrew Gunston, 47, pleaded guilty in the District Court in Mackay to dangerous operation of a vehicle on July 19 last year.
In sentencing, Judge Stuart Durward said that Gunston had been driving a friend's car for the first time. He'd intended to drive 700m away to a friend's house.
He had reversed down a driveway, then accelerated and lost control near Parkwood Tce and Illawong St in Cannonvale.
A witness had heard wheels screeching and saw the car flip over and crash into a palm tree, causing the tree to fall onto the car.
The judge said Gunston's blood alcohol at the time would have been between 0.12% and 0.15%. After the crash he'd told police that he had drunk six beers over a few hours.
The judge read out parts of a letter the victim's father had written to the court.
The father said he didn't hold Gunston personally responsible for the crash and said it had been a "tragic accident" with consequences for both families.
"I don't want to see Grant go to jail. I don't believe that would serve any purpose other than to make a bad situation even worse," the father wrote. "I've seen firsthand the way Grant has beat up on himself over what happened."
Defence barrister Michael Copley said Gunston owned an electrical business in Cannonvale.
He said the man had been friends with the victim since 1997 and had not "touched alcohol" since the crash.
Judge Durward sentenced Gunston to four years in jail, suspended after six months for an operational period of four years. His licence was disqualified for two years.
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