Our client had been drinking with his best friend at a birthday party. He left after someone made a comment to him which he found offensive and made him upset. He sat in his car outside and his best friend went after him to console him, offering to drive him home. The two left the party with our client’s best friend driving the car. However sometime during this trip, our client continued the driving and lost control of the car. They hit an embankment and our client’s best friend was ejected from the car. His best friend died almost instantly and the car caught fire. Our client was pulled away from the car by passersby.
Both our client and his deceased best friend were found to have high blood alcohol concentration. Our client was charged with Culpable Driving Causing Death and we represented him at the Melbourne County Court.
Our client was a young man with no criminal history. He was 21 years old when the accident occurred and was 23 during the sentencing. He took full responsibility for the death of his best friend and voluntarily announced this during his best friend’s funeral. He had maintained close relationship with his best friend’s family and they even supported him in court, writing a Victim Impact Statement that urges the court not to sentence our client to prison.
Our client also helped his best friend’s family who suffered greatly due to the Kinglake fires. He volunteered to help in rebuilding their home, made a financial donation, and organised a water tank for them. As the family had lost all their memorabilia of their son in the fire, our client coordinated with all of his friends to collect photos of his best friend for them.
In sentencing our client, the judge considered several factors: our client’s lack of criminal history, his young age, his clear remorse over the incident, and the fact that the deceased’s family themselves did not want a jail term to be imposed to our client. The issue of having to deter other drivers from drink driving also had to be taken into account and this left the judge with no choice but to impose a prison term to be immediately served. Our client was sentenced to 4 years in prison but could be paroled after 15 months. He also received a licence cancellation and was disqualified from driving for 2 years.