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Troubled Aussie rocker Daniel Johns avoids jail for drunken car crash

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Musician Daniel Johns has been spared jail time after he was three times over the legal limit when he crashed his car on the wrong side of the road.

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The former Silverchair frontman faced Raymond Terrace Local Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to high-range drink driving in the NSW Hunter region at about 10.30pm on March 23.

Lawyer Bryan Wrench said his client was at pains to show the court how serious he had taken the charge since entering rehab and his discharge in June, remaining abstinent from alcohol.

Leading up to the incident Johns was soon to release his new music album that triggered the mental health issues he has faced since his meteoric rise to fame as a teenager, the court was told.

“While in rehab his album hit number one but what needs to hit number one is his mental health,” Wrench said.

Some of Johns’ mental health issues stem from the physical and emotional abuse he suffered at school, threats of homophobia and stalking since unwanted fame.

Wrench said Johns was a very reclusive person and had been vilified by the media before he was charged with drink driving.

His struggle with anorexia in his early 20s led to reactive arthritis that flares up under stress, and he had been self-medicating using alcohol.

“While in rehab his album hit number one but what needs to hit number one is his mental health,” Wrench said.

After his partner took him to a holiday retreat to “escape the stressors” Johns “simply got in the car and simply drove to get away”.

Johns had driven his grey SUV out of a service station on the Pacific Highway at North Arm Cove and headed north before crashing into a van. Both vehicles ended up on a nature strip.
Johns was breathalysed and returned a blood alcohol level of 0.157.

The van driver, 51, and his female passenger, 55, were treated at the scene and the woman was taken to hospital.

Magistrate Ian Cheetham said the charge was serious but Johns’ background and circumstances were exceptional in handing him a 10-month intensive corrections order.

He was ordered to continue his medical treatment and has been disqualified from driving for seven months.

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