As reported by ABC News, the former Silverchair frontman appeared in person at Raymond Terrace Local Court today (July 6). Ruling magistrate Ian Cheetham reportedly informed Johns that the maximum sentence for an offence of his kind would be 18 months in jail. However, he was entitled to have 25 per cent of that time voided on account of pleading guilty.
Johns was ordered to complete his sentence in the community rather than jail, as Cheetham reportedly told the court: “There is no doubt a custodial sentence will not achieve an appropriate result for him or the community.”
As part of his sentencing, Johns will continue with the psychiatric treatment he had already been receiving. He has also been disqualified from driving for the next seven months, after which point he will need to have his car fitted with an alcohol-reading interlock device. He will be required to use that for 24 months following the reinstatement of his license.
Johns was charged with high-range drink driving on March 23, after causing a road accident in the Hunter region of New South Wales. According to court materials viewed by ABC News, Johns was driving northbound along the Pacific Highway when his SUV veered onto the wrong side of the road, clashing with a light commercial truck.
The incident occurred at North Arm Cove, where the driver and passenger of the other vehicle – a 51-year-old man and 55-year-old woman, respectively – were treated at the scene. According to a police report, Johns’ breath analysis returned an alleged blood alcohol reading of 0.157 (the legal limit for drivers in NSW is 0.05).
A day after the incident (March 24), Johns revealed on social media that he’d since admitted himself to a rehabilitation centre. At the time, he claimed that he had “been self-medicating with alcohol to deal with my PTSD, anxiety and depression”, and acknowledging that “is not sustainable or healthy”.
He later shared a statement taking “full responsibility” for the incident, stressing that he was “deeply remorseful and … working every day to make amends”. Speaking today, Johns reportedly told the court that he had spent a total of four weeks in rehab, and has not consumed alcohol since the incident.
Johns was defensed in court by lawyer Bryan Wrench, who reportedly detailed Johns’ longstanding battle with complex mental health issues. In his sentencing submission, Wrench said: “[Johns] was a very successful musician. He was 14 when that came to him in an unwanted fashion, and that came with attacks and vitriol.
“People defaced and graffitied his mother’s fence with homophobic slurs. He was pursued by a weird stalker, and there was a defamation case after he was accused of going to a brothel, which was totally untrue. He is a recluse, his house is his only safe place.”
Wrench reportedly went on to say that Johns was suffering from anxiety at the time of the incident, stemming from the release plans for Johns’ then-upcoming ‘FutureNever’ album (which arrived in April). It was reported that police prosecutor Matthew Barry had no objections to Wrench’s claims.
NME has reached out to representatives of Johns for comment.
For help and advice on mental health:
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians (CALL MUSIC MINDS MATTER ON: 0808 802 8008)
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues (CALL: 0800 030 6789)
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day