Driver in head-on crash was four times the limit

Christopher Peter OBeirne pleaded guilty today in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court to one count of drink driving. He had a BAC of 0.222 and claims he had taken a sleeping tablet the night he drunk drove his car into a street light.
Christopher Peter OBeirne pleaded guilty today in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court to one count of drink driving. He had a BAC of 0.222 and claims he had taken a sleeping tablet the night he drunk drove his car into a street light. Facebook

A MAN who had a blood alcohol reading more than four times the legal limit after crashing a car claims he had taken sleeping medication earlier, had gone to bed at 9pm and doesn't recall anything else.

Christopher Peter O'Beirne was found standing next to a vehicle which had crashed into a Rockhampton CBD street light late at night.

O'Beirne pleaded guilty today in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court to one count of drink driving.

Police prosecutor Jess King told the court police were called to the scene of the crash on Quay St at 11.40pm on November 15, 2017, where a grey station wagon had hit a street light head on.

She said O'Beirne was out of the car and police observed he was unsteady on his feet and had a cut to his forehead. He was transported to Rockhampton Hospital for treatment and blood test for alcohol content levels.

Ms King said after police received the report showing O'Beirne's reading from that night was 0.222, they attended his address and issued a notice to appear.

O'Beirne told the court he was taking sleeping medication and on that night, he'd gone to bed about 9pm.

"I have no recollection (of the events that night after 9pm)," he said.

O'Beirne said immediately after the offence, he checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation centre in Brisbane.

He was ordered to pay a $1000 fine and disqualified from driving for 11 months.

Sleeping tablets and bizarre behaviour

In the past 10 years, there has been substantial reports of bizarre behaviour conducted by people who have taken sleeping tablets, including those with no alcohol in their system and those with alcohol in their system.

In 2014, News Limited revisited the issue after renowned Australian swimmer Grant Hackett was photographed at the Crown Casino hotel one Saturday night while looking for his lost son, wearing a singlet for pants and apparently incoherent.

Reports indicated Hackett's behaviour was being linked to the sleeping tablet Stilnox.

The prescription drug zolpidem, sold as Stilnox in Australia or Ambien in the US, is a sedative-hypnotic drug for people suffering from insomnia but has been constantly linked to bizarre behaviour and deaths.

The manufacturer of the drug, Sanofi-Aventis, was taken to court in 2007 by "Ambien Zombies", who complained of sleep-eating and sleep-driving under the drug's influence.

The company was ordered to revise its warnings to alert users of the potential dangers of the drug.


Janet Makinen, 55, started taking Ambien in 1998. Her first episode of sleep eating happened just weeks later. She would half wake and walk into the kitchen to consume large amounts of cooked and uncooked foods. She ate raw eggs, uncooked rice and entire loaves of bread. Makinen gained a substantial amount of weight during the six years she medicated with Ambien and filed a suit against Sanofi-Aventis.

Julie Ann Bronson, 45, consumed six glasses of wine, popped an Ambien and went to bed for an early night at 7pm. The air hostess awoke on the cold cement floor of a jail cell. Panicking she asked her cell mate: "Why am I here? What did I do? What's going on?"

On April 23, 2009, Bronson got into her convertible Mercedes and drove over three people - including two children, causing brain damage to an 18-month-old. She didn't stop or offer aid.

She claims it was due to being under the influence of Ambien and that she doesn't recall anything between 7pm and waking up in the cell.

Lindsey Schweigert also woke up in jail. She went to bed for the night after having a dinner of pork chops and salad, what happened next was bizarre. The night Schweigert pieced together from police reports and witness statements varied drastically from the quiet night in she thought she'd had.

Just after 8pm she got out of bed, rummaged through her home and ran a bath. Instead of getting in the bath, she left the water running and jumped in her Mini Cooper with her dog, Tyson.

She headed to the restaurant Steak 'n Shake but didn't make it. She was pulled over by cops and when asked to walk in a line, fell over three times. She was charged with driving under the influence, although she hadn't consumed a drop of alcohol.

Read more here: 'Like a bad dream': The dark side of sleeping pills Stilnox and Ambien

Topics:  drink driving editors picks grant hackett rockhampton magistrates court sleeping tablets stilnox tmbcourt

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