News, Culture & Society

Silverchair’s Daniel Johns is handed 10 month sentence over high-range drink driving car crash

Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns has dodged a jail sentence for high-range drink driving after a magistrate ruled time behind bars would be of little benefit to the  ‘deeply troubled’ rock star. 

Johns, 43, faced Raymond Terrace Local Court near Newcastle on Wednesday after pleading guilty to drink driving in the NSW Hunter region at about 10.30pm on March 23.  

Johns crashed into a light commercial truck on the Pacific Highway and recorded a blood-alcohol reading 0.157 – more than three times the legal limit.

The truck driver, 51, and his female passenger, 55, were treated at the scene.

Johns was given a 10-month intensive corrections order –  a court sentence of two years or less which is served in the community under the strict supervision of Community Corrections.

He was also disqualified from driving for seven months and ordered to install an alcohol-reading interlock device to his car for 24 months once he gets his licence back.

Johns’ 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 by remaining abstinent from alcohol.

Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns is pictured outside Raymond Terrace Courthouse in NSW with his high-profile lawyer Bryan Wrench after being handed a 10-month correction order over a high-range drink-driving car crash

Johns checked into rehab in April to address his drinking and mental health issues. 

Leading up to the drink-driving incident, Johns was set 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.

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

Johns crashed into a light commercial truck on the Pacific Highway and recorded a blood-alcohol reading 0.157 - more than three times the legal limit

Johns crashed into a light commercial truck on the Pacific Highway and recorded a blood-alcohol reading 0.157 – more than three times the legal limit

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,’ Mr 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 the truck. Both vehicles ended up on a nature strip.

Johns was given a Intensive Correction Order - a court sentence of two years or less which is served in the community under the strict supervision of Community Corrections

Johns was given a Intensive Correction Order – a court sentence of two years or less which is served in the community under the strict supervision of Community Corrections

He was also disqualified from driving for seven months and ordered to install an alcohol-reading interlock device to his car for 24 months once he gets his licence back

He was also disqualified from driving for seven months and ordered to install an alcohol-reading interlock device to his car for 24 months once he gets his licence back

Magistrate Ian Cheetham said the charge was serious but Johns’ background and circumstances were exceptional. 

‘There is no doubt a custodial sentence will not achieve an appropriate result for him or the community,’ Magistrate Cheetham said. 

Johns thanked the magistrate for sparing him prison. 

The famed musician appeared pale and gaunt at the sentencing.

He dressed in a baggy grey suit as he walked alongside his high-profile lawyer Wrench outside the court – and appeared to be carrying a vape in his pocket.

Johns looked gaunt in a baggy grey suit and black shoes as he walked alongside his lawyer under an umbrella

Johns looked gaunt in a baggy grey suit and black shoes as he walked alongside his lawyer under an umbrella 

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 by remaining abstinent from alcohol

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 by remaining abstinent from alcohol

In a phone call transcribed from his stay in rehab and posted to his Instagram account, Johns addressed his relationship with alcohol and also offered an apology.

‘My drinking had become a bigger problem than I even realised, and how I have used it to help numb a range of deeper psychological issues that I’ve been living with since childhood,’ he said.

‘Some of these issues you know, and a lot cut much deeper. Alcohol is not medicine. I should never have treated it like it was. I feel like a complete f**k-up and I’m sorry.  

‘I take full responsibility for my actions on the evening of March 23rd, I am deeply remorseful and I am working every day to make amends. I am handling these matters professionally and privately. 

‘For legal reasons, I am unable to talk specifics on social media or elsewhere until after June 22nd.’

Johns (pictured with lawyer Bryan Wrench) checked into rehab in April to address his drinking and mental health issues

Johns (pictured with lawyer Bryan Wrench) checked into rehab in April to address his drinking and mental health issues 

Johns rocked an undercut and wispy mullet as he turned up to court

Johns rocked an undercut and wispy mullet as he turned up to court  

Shortly after the accident in March, Johns posted that he had been suffering from 
‘panic attacks’ and the accident occurred after becoming ‘lost’ on the road.

‘As you know, my mental health is a work in progress. I have good days and bad days but it’s something I always have to manage,’ he said.

‘Over the last week I began to experience panic attacks. Last night I got lost while driving and I was in an accident. I am OK, everyone is OK.

‘Alongside my therapy, I’ve been self-medicating with alcohol to deal with my anxiety and depression. I know this is no sustainable or healthy.

‘I have to step back now as I’m self-admitting to a rehabilitation centre and I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Appreciate your love and support as always.’

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

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

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

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

The drink-driving crash came just weeks after Daniel slammed his Silverchair ‘colleagues’ for allegedly not supporting him when he was gravely ill in 2002.

The singer and guitarist revealed in a Facebook post in March that he’d been diagnosed with reactive arthritis, an inflammation of the joints that left him in crippling pain, when the band was launching their fourth album Diorama.

Johns, who also was being treated for anxiety and anorexia at the time, claimed he did not receive the help he needed, and felt his band was ‘more of a business than family’.

The musician recently released his second solo album FutureNever, and told fans he will promote the record while healing.

In a phone call transcribed from rehab and posted to his Instagram account, Johns addressed his relationship with alcohol and also offered an apology

In a phone call transcribed from rehab and posted to his Instagram account, Johns addressed his relationship with alcohol and also offered an apology

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk