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Criminal Law News VIC

Negligently causing serious injury (NCSI)

A driver with blood alcohol concentration of 0.13 pleaded guilty to two counts of NCSI under (Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), s 24).

On 23 August 2008, the accused was driving along the Princes Highway at approximately 88 kph in an 80 kph zone. He drove through a red light at the intersection of Princes Highway and Springvale Road. He applied the emergency brakes, which caused the vehicle to skid, spun around and the front of the vehicle hit a light pole on a traffic island, with sufficient force to break the light pole. It then collided with another vehicle driven by victim.

All three occupants of victim’s car were injured. One sustained a small haematoma and some abrasions. Another sustained a fractured eye socket, a closed head injury and loss of consciousness and some bruising. The other sustained the most, with a closed head injury causing traumatic brain damage.

A sample of blood taken from the accused indicated a blood alcohol concentration of 0.13 per cent. He did not have a Victorian driver’s licence so the prescribed concentration of alcohol was therefore zero. Accused pleaded guilty to two counts of NCSI under (Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), s 24).

The offence of NCSI is made out when it is proved that:

(1) a person did or omitted to do something;

(2) that act or omission was culpably negligent; and

(3) that act or omission caused serious injury to another person. In this case, the County Court noted that the negligence was of a very high degree.

The objective features of his driving demonstrated a very great falling short of the standard of care required. His driving over the speed limit and over the permitted blood alcohol limit created a high risk of harm. The risk was that, in his intoxicated condition and at excessive speed, he would not be able to keep a proper look out and deal safely with any sudden eventuality (e.g. red light).

Very high negligence in driving coupled with the serious injury caused to the victims justify total effective sentence of five years imprisonment. His licence was cancelled and disqualified for period of 4 years from the date of sentence.

Source: Gorladenchearau v The Queen [2011] VSCA 432 (16 December 2011)

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