Redland City Mayor Karen Williams ‘deeply sorry’ for driving after drinking

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams has said she will not resign after admitting to crashing her car after “several glasses of wine” Thursday night.

Ms Williams’ car left the road and hit a tree in Cleveland, east of Brisbane, at around 9pm, hours after the Redlands’ budget was officially handed over.

The car left the road and hit a tree at this intersection.(ABC News: Laura Lavelle)

Ms Williams said she was ‘deeply sorry’ for her actions but intended to stay in the role she had held for 10 years.

“One rash decision should not follow another,” she said.

“Everyone makes mistakes. I am truly sorry for these actions and will continue to serve my community and reflect what is needed for this community to be a better and safer place.”

Ms Williams said she could not remember how many drinks she had had.

“I don’t know how many drinks I had. I had several drinks over several hours,” she said.

Ms Williams has recently taken a leading role in calls for tougher juvenile justice laws in Queensland.

Ms Williams was the lead petitioner in an online petition calling for a longer sentence for an 18-year-old man convicted of manslaughter following the 2021 deaths of Matthew Field and Kate Leadbetter.

The 17-year-old was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he hit Mr Field and Ms Leadbetter with a stolen 4×4 at high speed in Alexandra Hills.

The teenager was given a 10-year sentence, but the judge ordered him released after six years.

Ms Williams played a significant role in the campaign launched by the Leadbetter and Field families, alongside State Opposition Leader David Crisafulli.

Mr Crisafulli only made general comments when asked about the situation but said ‘drunk driving is not permitted’.

“No matter who you are or what your situation is, you should never drive after drinking,” he said.

Ms Williams said she had spoken to the Leadbetter and Field families.

“I will continue to offer whatever support they may need and [ensure] that the Youth Justice Act be amended so that criminals cannot re-offend,” she said.

“Everyone makes mistakes – I intend to learn from mine.

“I also intend to make sure there is a message for those who are repeat offenders.”

No charges have been filed regarding the incident.

MP calls for inquiry

Capalaba State Deputy Don Brown said he was “completely shocked and appalled” when he heard the news.

He said Ms Williams was “a complete hypocrite”.

“I just couldn’t believe someone of her stature and what she was campaigning on did exactly what she was campaigning against,” he said.

Portrait of Queensland MP for Capalaba, Don Brown
Don Brown calls for an investigation into the circumstances of the incident. (ABC News: Laura Lavelle)

Mr Brown represents the community where Mr Field and Ms Leadbetter died last year and said he spoke to the families on Saturday.

He said the families were “angry” at Ms Williams’ actions.

He said there was only one course of action for Ms Williams.

“Resign, you can’t run this city and then endanger the people you represent,” he said.

“She doesn’t even know how many drinks she had, then she consciously got into a car and drove it.

“It is that in my opinion, it is time to resign.”

Mr Brown called for an investigation into the circumstances leading up to the incident and urged other Redland advisers to speak out publicly.

“They have to call the behavior. If you stay quiet about it and think it’s going to go away, it’s not,” he said.

“There are a lot of questions.”

Redlands Councilor Wendy Boglary has since condemned the mayor’s actions and defended the culture of the council.

“I don’t think there is an alcohol culture on the council, but there may be individual councilors who have an alcohol culture,” she said.

“What happened with Mayor Karen Williams was her own individual choice to drink and drive her car.

“I need not go into detail regarding the risk of potential devastating results that could have come from such unwise choices.”

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