Bywong woman claims corruption in drink driving case

A senior electorate officer for Pru Goward’s office in Goulburn was found guilty of drink driving. Photo: Quentin Jones A senior electorate officer for Pru Goward’s office in Goulburn accused police of corruption after they charged her with drink driving, a court has been told.

Helen Swan, of Bywong, appeared in Queanbeyan Local Court where she accused police of fabricating a conversation held between her and a senior constable on the night she was nabbed for drink driving, after a publicly-funded event in Queanbeyan.

Magistrate Michael Antrum said there was “no scintillar of evidence” police acted against the oath of their office or in an unprofessional manner and said the accusations would have been “an elaborate fabrication” for which there was no motive.

Swan was given a 12-month good behaviour bond after she was caught drink driving leaving the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan on May 15, 2014.

Then executive officer of the South East Regional Organisation of Councils, Swan was found guilty in Queanbeyan Local Court on Friday, December 4.

The 56 year old had entered a plea of not guilty to the charge.

The incident occurred on Thursday, May 15, 2014, in the course of her employment with SEROC (now CBRJO). Swan was hosting a function at the Royal Hotel prior to a board meeting the following day. She was seen leaving the hotel about 10pm that night, where she drove “around the corner” to a motel.

While she was never breath tested, Swan was spotted “staggering across the road”.

A man, who was the passenger in a car, described seeing Swan get in her car intoxicated and he called triple 0 to report the incident.

The man said to his wife, who was driving, “look how drunk this lady is”.

Police told him to follow the car and he did so into a nearby motel carpark.

Police attended the motel and knocked on the door of Swan’s room. She answered wearing a business jacket with shirt, and underpants.

Magistrate Antrum said here was the point of contention.

A senior constable, who has been in the force for 13 years, took down notes when she attended the motel.

Swan said the notes were fabricated.

The senior constable described Swan as being moderately to well affected by alcohol.

She said there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor on her breath, and she had slurred speech. She was also having trouble focusing.

The notes show Swan was asked about her evening. Swan responded saying she had consumed three to four wines between 6.45pm and about 9pm.

When asked if she thought she was over the limit, Swan said, “I knew I was over the limit, yes”. She also said she thought she was sober enough to drive, given her motel was a short distance away.

In a report prepared for the court, NSW Police clinical forensic pharmacologist Judith Perl said with the information she was provided, Swan would have likely had a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.085 to 0.124.

In closing, the magistrate took into account a lack of remorse and responsibility.

“Driving under the influence consumes vast reserves of the state’s … resources,” Magistrate Antrum said.

“Even more troubling are the resources of hospitals, morgues and the consequences of what happens [when driving under the influence].”

Swan received a non-conviction with a 12-month good behaviour bond and was ordered to undertake a traffic behaviour program.

Outside of court, Swan said she did not agree with the finding but would not be taking it further.

“I had three glasses of wine in three hours,” she said.

“I have 38 years of unblemished driving record; I wasn’t breathalysed, there was no reading.

“Basically from my personal perspective, we all need to be careful. I certainly won’t be drinking anything if I need to drive anywhere.”

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