Driver waved bottle of spirits at overtaking car moments before crashing

A man involved in a high-speed crash after his grandmother’s funeral left his injured passenger beside the wreck, a court has heard.

Blake Barry Smaill, 29, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to careless driving causing injury.

It was another chapter in an “extremely bad driving history”, which had seen the defendant repeatedly suspended for excess demerit points, Judge Kevin Phillips said.

After attending his grandmother’s funeral and a family gathering on August 6, Smaill picked up a woman in his Subaru Impreza.

“There was a bottle of spirits in the vehicle,” a police summary said.

The pair were heading north on State Highway1 with Smaill at the wheel when he overtook another motorist “well in excess of the 100km/h limit”.

When the defendant had completed the manoeuvre, he pulled into the left lane, which allowed the person he had just overtaken to overtake him.

As they passed Smaill, he raised the bottle of spirits he was holding and “gestured” towards the driver.

The defendant then accelerated, attempting to regain the lead but lost control of his vehicle, slamming into a barrier on his left.

The vehicle spun across the motorway and into the central barrier before coming to a stop, the court heard.

After briefly checking on his passenger, Smaill scaled a railing and fled.

Police found him two days later.

The passenger, “dazed and disorientated” after the crash, initially tried to walk away but returned to the scene.

She was admitted to hospital and treated for a cut head and concussion.

Counsel Alex Bligh said it had been a “very emotional time” for her client after losing his father and two grandmothers in the same year.

She accepted Smaill had made a bad decision when he left the scene but put it down to him panicking.

While the defendant had a history of reckless driving, wheel-spinning, failing to stop and driving while suspended, Bligh stressed most of the convictions were relatively historical.

Smaill told Probation the crash had been caused by loose wheel nuts but Judge Phillips dismissed that.

He imposed four months’ community detention and disqualified the defendant from driving for six months.

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