A woman previously found guilty of not stopping to help a pedestrian after hitting him with her car at the Mount Ainslie lookout has had her charge dismissed due to her mental health.
Her 26-year-old victim had been found in the middle of the road on 3 June 2021 with numerous injuries, including an injury to his brain, a collapsed lung and bone fractures.
The woman, who is legally unable to be named, had driven to the lookout at around 11 pm and started honking her horn with her passenger.
The victim was intoxicated, and as his girlfriend was annoyed at the noise, he went and bashed on the woman’s window. She drove off, hit him with her car and didn’t alert the authorities.
When Magistrate James Stewart found her guilty of a charge of driver not stopping to give assistance at the end of a hearing last month, he said, “at the bare minimum”, she would have known she had run over the victim’s feet.
When she appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court again on Thursday (15 December), the magistrate said due to her young age and untreated mental impairments, it was appropriate to dismiss the charge and divert her to the jurisdiction of the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal.
“You’ve got a tough road ahead of you,” Magistrate Stewart told her after making the order.
“There’s no reason why you can’t have a long, happy life, but you need to seek treatment.
“Take care of yourself.”
Prosecutor Morgan Howe had fought against the making of such an order, arguing in part that the woman’s mental impairments didn’t diminish the importance of making her accountable for her actions.
But Magistrate Stewart said she had a “significant mental illness” which wasn’t evident in the hearing against her last month, including post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD and borderline personality disorder.
Clinical psychologist Vanessa Quigley said these were all present at the time of offending and still remained affecting her.
Magistrate Stewart also said the woman had suffered significant personal trauma before the crash, and the incident had only added to her mental health issues.
“I do not think [she] is a risk to the community or pedestrians,” he said.
He did note that as she left a crash scene when she at least ran over someone’s foot on a misty, dark night in a place that was out of the way, it did present a great risk to a person who was injured.