5 October 2021

Car sped 'like a missile' before crashing on Belconnen Way

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

18-year-old Michael Christopher Donlan, also known as Michael Christopher Spong, pleaded guilty to causing a car crash. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A teenage driver was speeding “like a missile” before a crash that partially ejected his passenger from his car.

Court documents show Michael Christopher Donlan, also known as Michael Christopher Spong, was driving back to the Canberra Institute of Technology campus with a classmate at about 1:00 pm on 17 February 2021 after they had gone for a drive on their lunch break.

As they drove west along Belconnen Way, the classmate looked at the speedometer and saw the 18-year-old was driving his Toyota Corolla at 160 km/h.

He weaved between lanes as he overtook other cars, with the driver of one later telling police he checked his rearview mirror and “saw a small white car coming at me like a missile”.

“The white car was going a million miles an hour and I could hear the car engine screaming as it passed me,” he said.

“I felt like I was standing still.”

READ ALSO Family details pain after boy loses leg, spends month in coma after horrific car crash

As Donlan crossed the intersection with Gungahlin Drive he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with another car, and his Corolla spun 180 degrees and started travelling backwards. It hit a fence, struck a tree and rolled onto its roof.

The classmate was partially ejected through the back passenger window and became trapped. Donlan was able to get out of the car and tried to pull him out without success before emergency services arrived.

“We were going a bit quick. We were being d-kheads,” Donlan told police.

The classmate was taken to Canberra Hospital with a lacerated spleen, broken femur as well as fractures to his spine and skull.

Donlan later told police he reached speeds of 180 km/h at one point. Police noted he was polite, cooperative and showed remorse.

READ ALSO Father’s split-second mistake leaves son with life-long injuries

Donlan, from Hawker, appeared via phone in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (1 October), where he pleaded guilty to charges of culpable driving causing grievous bodily harm as well as driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle.

His lawyer, Adrian McKenna of Hugo Law Group, sought a psychiatric assessment and Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the matter for sentencing to 16 December and made a referral for restorative justice.

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