What at first appeared to be a man who had lost control of his car while under the influence of alcohol has turned out to be a failed suicide attempt by a couple in great despair.
Magistrate Chris Bone said in Queanbeyan Local Court this week that at surface level, it seemed like a "run-of-the-mill" drink-driving incident.
But after delving a little deeper, he realised it was much more serious. The Canberra couple had not swerved to miss a kangaroo; they had deliberately rammed a guardrail along the Kings Highway.
The car skidded along the rail for 200 metres before mounting an embankment and hitting a fence. It came to a stop in a paddock.
After reading a doctor's letter in which the 27-year-old man had said he had been in a suicidal frame of mind that night, Magistrate Bone asked why the man had felt the need to end his life.
He replied he and his wife had been going through a tumultuous period. The weight of several failed IVF attempts had been hard to bear, and the crippling cost of the procedure had been sending them bankrupt.
"Me and my wife both agreed to it [the suicide attempt]," he said.
After downing seven schooners of beer, the man - with his wife by his side - set out on the road. Tests later revealed he was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.095.
Following the crash, the woman had some minor injuries but the couple were otherwise unhurt. There was major damage to the car, as well as the guard rail.
Although, the couple initially claimed they had tried to avoid hitting a kangaroo, the police did not find any evidence to verify this.
The man said he was now in a better place. He had received counselling through Crisis Care and Beyond Blue and his father had offered to help financially. He and his wife no longer wanted to kill themselves and they were continuing IVF treatment.
The man's wife was in court to support him.
Despite the unusual circumstances of the case, Magistrate Chris Bone said he would treat it like any other traffic matter.
He fined the man $500 for driving with a mid-range PCA and disqualified his licence for six months. He was fined a further $300 for negligent driving.
In sentencing, Magistrate Bone told the man his actions could easily have affected others in the community – he could have killed someone else on the road that night.
Support is available for anyone who might be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.