Inside Patricia Hadjia’s fall from grace, from fancy parties to helping people in need.
A beautiful influencer will have to squeeze 250 hours of community service into her busy work schedule over the next three years.
A well-known Instagram influencer will have to give up her social life and work in a soup kitchen after a friend’s wedding went wrong and she crashed into multiple cars while more than three times the legal limit of alcohol.
Patricia Hadjia was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee on October 16, 2014, when it hit three cars and rolled onto its side on Duncan Street in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra. Hadjia was charged with high-range drunk driving.
She has 38,000 followers on Instagram and is the sister of Joelle Hadjia, an Australian singer. She is also a co-owner of the clothing label Rogue Season.
The chain of events has been laid out in court, and this week, a 28-year-old marketing manager asked a District Court judge to lighten her sentence because she felt “out of place” doing the “excessive” 400 hours of community service.
Hadjia, who went by the name “Torpedo Trish” on Instagram, went to a friend’s wedding in the hours before the crash.
She posted a picture of herself holding a glass of champagne and putting her arm around a bride wearing green pants, a blazer, and Air Jordans.
Hadjia told the police that between 3 and 9 p.m., she had five cocktails and tapas.
In March, Hadjia’s lawyer, Tom Hughes, told a Local Court that Hadjia bought herself a few drinks, but the bartender gave her more because he was “heavy-handed” about it.
“She didn’t drive herself to the party. Instead, she rode with someone else, but she was left behind. “It doesn’t excuse what he did, but it shows why he did it,” Mr. Hughes said.
“It’s strange that the older man whose car it was thought it was okay to give the keys to the young woman.”
Hadjia told the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney on Tuesday that she met Christopher De Rito, the owner of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, at a wedding, where they got along well and made plans to go back to his house.
Hadjia told the court that she had planned to get an Uber after the wedding, but that she no longer “fit into the original plans.”
“So I went with him instead, and I ended up driving his car… Hadjia said, “I take full responsibility for that.”
Court documents say that Mr. De Rito gave Hadjia the keys and planned to drive “around the corner.”
Hadjia was driving at a “unknown speed” when she hit the back of a parked Toyota Corolla and then hit the back of a stopped Subaru Forrester.
Hadjia turned the car and crashed into a Kia, which flipped over the Jeep.
The two were briefly stuck, but they were able to get out of the wreckage before emergency workers arrived and saw the trail of destruction.
The police could smell alcohol when they got there, so they did a breath test.
Hadjia’s reading was 0.181, which is more than three times the limit.
In March, Hadjia went to Waverley Local Court, where magistrate Jacqueline Milledge said she deserved a “very firm sanction.”
The court told her she could do community service because she had her first Covid-19 shot two days before.
The court heard that Hadjia had paid $38,190 in damages, which was all of her life savings.
“This woman is very sorry for what she did and has taken full responsibility for it,” Mr. Hughes said.
Magistrate Milledge said that the 28-year-old was “not too different” from most of the people she saw every day in court.
“You’re just like a lot of other people who go to court,” Ms. Milledge said.
She agreed that Hadjia was a hard-working young woman who felt bad about what she had done and was sorry for it.
“But the whole point of laws against drunk driving is to try to deal with the problem where it hurts the most,” Ms. Milledge said.
“People like you, who think they don’t have to worry about going to court, go out and make bad decisions that put other people in danger, just like you did this time.”
Ms. Milledge said Hadjia could have said no to taking the keys and was “very close” to going to jail.
“It’s a shame that people in your position have a blood alcohol level of 0.181,” she told him.
Hadjia was given a three-year community corrections order and told she had to do 400 hours of community service.
Her license was taken away for nine months, which ended on July 16. After that, she had to go through a two-year program called “interlock.”
“Do you realize what’s going on? “Go live the best life you can,” said Ms. Milledge.
Mr. Hughes told the judge that Hadjia “cared a lot about giving back to the community.”
Hadjia cared about the community for three months, and this week she asked the NSW District Court to reduce her sentence.
Even though lawyer Eidan Havas was “willing to do” the 400 hours, she said they were “offensively excessive.”
The 28-year-old woman said there was “no reason” for what she did in court.
The 28-year-old said through tears, “There is no way I would ever do anything even close to that again; it was so embarrassing.”
Hadjia told the court about her job as a marketing manager for So Social, saying that she has to go to different places in Sydney and meet with clients “seven days a week, every week.”
The court heard that she had gone to a day of getting started with community service and found it “intense.”
Hadjia said, “I felt pretty out of place and uncomfortable.”
“There were a lot of men there, and they were talking about their crimes.”
When asked why she agreed to the community service if she now doesn’t want to do it, the 28-year-old said it was because she “wanted to show she was sorry” and make up for what she did.
She told the court, “It’s very hard with the amount I’ve been given, and I’m thinking about doing it for a long time.”
Judge Ian Bourke agreed that Hadjia had gotten a “significant punishment,” but he said that more punishment was still needed because the crash could have hurt or killed a lot of people.
Judge Bourke said, “That didn’t happen here, but that was more due to good luck than anything else.”
He cut the number of hours of community service from 400 to 250.