Driver is not guilty

Daily Examiner

THE young man's family cried tears of joy in Grafton District Court yesterday as the jury announced its verdict.

It took the 12 jurors little more than one hour to unanimously find the young Clarence Valley man not guilty of two charges of dangerous driving occasioning death, in relation to a crash on the Pacific Hwy on March 12, 2010.

The man, who was a minor at the time of the double fatality at Tabbimoble, cannot be identified for legal reasons.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of negligent driving occasioning death and Judge Christopher Robison placed him on a two-year good behaviour bond under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.

In effect, that means the negligent driving charge was proven but no conviction will be recorded against the man.

Garry Connelly, 61, and his wife Monica Connelly, 64, from Highland Park, Queensland, were killed in the head-on crash.

Defence counsel Luke Brasch said, in pleading guilty, his client, "accepts that he ought to have been more prudent with his driving, he accepts that degree of responsibility".

"He accepts he could have driven at a lesser speed," Mr Brasch said.

The court heard earlier that conditions on the day of the crash were wet with intermittent rain and one witness told the court the particular section of highway was "rough".

While there was no evidence to present the young man's exact speed at the time of impact, a truck driver who had just been overtaken told the court the P-plater, "wasn't going flat out".

Expert witnesses told the court ruts and water on the road may have contributed to the crash with elements of "asymmetric drag" and "aquaplaning" possibly playing a role.

Under questioning from his counsel, the young man told the court he had met the daughter of Monica Connelly last week, who had embraced him, held his hand and told him she didn't blame him for the accident.

Asked how he felt in relation to the Connelly family, the young man said he was, "sad, just very upset".

He told the court he thought about the crash every day and that it had impacted his "whole life".

Judge Robison said he would not be surprised if the man carried the guilt for the tragedy for the rest of his life.

Topics:  dangerous driving occasioning death, driver, grafton district court, not guilty



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