Sentence summary: Culpable driving
After drinking heavily at home, the offender went into the city with friends. After being refused entry to a nightclub for being intoxicated, the offender became separated from his friends, broke into a car rental office, took keys from a drop box and drove off in one of the rental cars. After smashing through a boom gate, running a red light and mounting a median strip, he began travelling at high speed – 152 km/h in a 60 km/h zone – before running another red light and striking the victim, who was on a pedestrian crossing, killing her instantly and narrowly missing her companion. After colliding with a tree and a traffic light, the offender left the car and fled the scene. His blood alcohol level was later estimated to be between 0.129 and 0.228.
The offender pleaded guilty to five charges: culpable driving causing death, conduct endangering life, burglary, theft and failing to stop after an accident.
The judge found that the offender had led an exemplary and blameless life until the accident and that his conduct on that morning was inexplicable and out of character, though his use of alcohol had increased considerably since moving to Melbourne after he had informed his religious family in New Zealand of his homosexuality.
The offender’s genuine contrition and remorse for his actions were accepted by the judge who also noted that the offender had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
However the judge found that this was a shocking example of this type of offending and that the offender had been driving in a manner and at a speed that made it inevitable that death would result. He noted the profound impact the victim’s death had had on family and friends who were, he said, inconsolable in their grief. He also found that deterrence must be emphasised in punishing crimes of this sort and it was not to be forgotten that a life had been lost.
The offender was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years.