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Kookai founder crawled through back streets in mangled car, court told

Vagner crashed into the house about 4.50pm, police prosecutor Senior Constable Kai Schulz told the court, and at 6.31pm recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.099.

When police asked why she drove away from the crash, Vagner said “she didn’t think it was a big deal”, Senior Constable Schulz said.

Vagner sat with her ex-husband and Kookai co-owner Rob Cromb and other family members as her lawyer, Robert Galabally, QC, said the offending was the only black mark on his client’s 35-year driving record.

Vagner took three Valium tablets the night before, Mr Galballly said, as she couldn’t sleep because of a sore gum, and on the day of the crash drank three glasses of rose at lunch in Toorak Road and went to the dentist.

Her dentist told police she “did not seem all there”, the court heard, and after her appointment she bought Panadeine Forte.

“Her behaviour cannot be explained solely by reference to alcohol. She has probably been affected by medications and sleep deprivation and acted out of character,” Mr Galbally told magistrate Peter Mealy.

Danielle Vagner, centre, leaves court with her daughter and former husband.

Danielle Vagner, centre, leaves court with her daughter and former husband.Credit:Eddie Jim

Vagner, 54, pleaded guilty to exceeding 0.05, dangerous driving, driving an unroadworthy vehicle, driving an unregistered vehicle, and failure to stop charges. Three charges, including reckless conduct endangering serious injury, were withdrawn.

Mr Galbally called on the magistrate to impose a sentence that would include a loss of licence and substantial fine, without conviction. He said Vagner had not driven since the incident, had repaid the house owner for the damage she caused and spent two weeks in a private hospital undergoing treatment.

The lawyer did not outline what sort of treatment Vagner underwent, but said she had health problems since 2016 but had “rehabilitated herself as speedily as possible”. She was remorseful and had never been in trouble with the law before.

Vagner drove away from the house in an attempt to move the car from a dangerous spot, Mr Galbally said, but at such a low speed it at one point took two minutes for her to drive 150 metres.

The blood alcohol reading was “merely twice the allowed limit but not in the excessive category”, he said.

Mr Mealy extended Vagner’s bail for her to return to court next month for sentencing.

Adam Cooper joined The Age in 2011 after a decade with AAP, the country’s news service. Email or tweet Adam with your news tips.

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