A split-second mistake on a Sunday drive has turned into a life-long tragedy for a Canberra family, as a father now has to live with the guilt of causing a crash that left his young son with permanent injuries.
Court documents show that at about 2:00 pm on 21 February 2021, the father, whom Region Media has chosen not to name, was driving west on Long Gully Road before attempting to turn right onto Mugga Lane in Symonston.
But as he tried to cross the T-intersection, he turned in front of an Audi S5 coming from the opposite direction. It crashed into the front passenger side of his station wagon where his 14-year-old son was sitting.
His son was taken to Canberra Hospital with multiple pelvic fractures, a broken femur and lacerations to his bowel. He didn’t leave hospital until late May.
Later that fateful Sunday, police spoke to the father in the hospital’s emergency department. He told them he turned in front of the Audi as he didn’t see it until it was about three metres away.
The driver of the Audi would tell police he had only owned the car for a day and a half before the crash.
On Wednesday (28 July), the father’s lawyer, Paul Edmonds from Canberra Criminal Lawyers, told the ACT Magistrates Court his client’s son would probably never make a full recovery.
He said the teen had achieved a significant level of improvement and had gone back to school, but his mobility was still impaired. For example, he could no longer walk to the bus stop.
He told the court the T intersection was very busy on the weekend, and for reasons “that may never be completely known”, the father was unable to see the Audi until it was too late.
“The self-imposed punishment on the defendant himself will far exceed any other sentence,” Magistrate Glenn Theakston said.
“He will carry with him for the rest of his life the guilt and regret that flows from this tragic accident.”
Magistrate Theakston noted the father, who is in his 40s, had pleaded guilty to a charge of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm that Wednesday, the first day the matter had appeared before the court.
He described the crash as “tragic” and said it was easy for all drivers to miss something at some point, but unfortunately, in this case, the father had missed seeing the other car.
Magistrate Theakston said there was a good chance the son would carry his injuries for the rest of his life. He accepted that extra-curial punishment would impact his father.
He sentenced him to a 12-month good behaviour order and disqualified him from driving for three months.