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Criminal Law Blog VIC

A driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, failure to render assistance

On 8 March 2011, a fatal collision occurred between the accused and a cyclist. On that day, the accused was driving in a westerly direction along Mount Dandenong Road in Ringwood East.

At a point where the road narrowed from three lanes into two, the accused failed to merge, and instead drove his vehicle along a dedicated bicycle lane. He struck a cyclist from behind. The victim was thrown from his bicycle and landed heavily on the road, about 40 metres away from the point of impact.

Despite being in a 70 km per hour zone, the accused was driving at about 80 km per hour when his vehicle struck the victim. He suffered severe head injuries and spinal fractures. He died from those injuries two days later. For this the accused was charged with dangerous driving causing death.

After the collision, the accused pulled over and walked towards the victim who was lying on the road. However, within moments he returned to his car and drove away without rendering assistance, and without contacting emergency services. For this he was charged with failing to render assistance.

Appellant pleaded guilty to charge 1 (dangerous driving causing death) and charge 2 (failure to render assistance). His total effective sentence was five years and three months’ imprisonment with non-parole period of three years. The issue is whether three years and six months’ imprisonment for the offence of failing to stop after an accident was too high.

According to the accused, his conduct should not be viewed as a serious example of failing to stop. He argued that the gravity of his offending was lessened by the fact that he had, initially, stopped his vehicle, got out and approached the cyclist. He further submitted that his offending should be viewed less seriously because he did not leave the cyclist alone and unattended on the road, there being passers-by present. He submitted that his actions in leaving the scene had not, for that reason, contributed in any way to the tragic death of the deceased.

The Court of Appeals agreed that penalty for second charge was excessive although not because of the arguments above. There were various other mitigating factors that were present which justifies re-sentence. Appeal was allowed, and the sentence on charge 2 reduced, the total effective sentence maintained at five years and three months; non-parole period of three years.

Source: Veerman v The Queen [2012] VSCA 194 (24 August 2012)

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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