27 January 2022

'Terrible consequences': Pensioner ignored stop sign, causing crash that hospitalised victims for weeks

| Albert McKnight
Woman leaving court

Lynette Derilli Flowers, 69, leaves court after her sentencing. Photo: Albert McKnight.

It only took a few seconds for the tragedy to happen, and afterwards, in an explosion of metal and glass, two people were left on a road with life-long injuries.

It was twilight when a husband, as driver, and his wife, as pillion, took their motorcycle down Canberra Avenue towards Fyshwick on 4 June 2021.

He was filming their ride with a camera on his helmet and footage from the fateful trip was screened to the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (25 January).

In the footage, 69-year-old pensioner Lynette Derilli Flowers can be seen driving her Mazda CX-3 along Eyre Street in Griffith approaching Canberra Avenue, but as the motorcycling duo came close, she ignored a stop sign and tried to accelerate across. Pulling out in front of them, the motorcycle smashed into her car.

“There’s no doubt about the circumstances of the collision,” Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter remarked after watching the footage.

The bike’s driver, a fireman, told the court he and his wife spent about eight weeks in hospital after the crash and still require medical assistance.

He received a fractured pelvis, ribs and facial bones, while she suffered a broken arm and wrist, a nasal bone fracture and fractured ribs.

The driver said his physical impairments were restrictive even today: he has a limp, said it is uncomfortable when he sits for a long time and has sensitive and damaged teeth.

He cannot crouch down, so he can’t even tie his shoelaces. He said he remains “broken, scarred and disfigured”.

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“The collision has taken many things from me,” he said.

“Being a victim was never my intention,” he said, because as a qualified fireman and rescue operator, it was usually up to him to rescue a victim, not be one himself.

He also said he felt embarrassed and ashamed at not being able to rescue his wife.

In a victim impact statement written by her, read to the court by prosecutor David Swan, she said she was screaming her husband’s name and was worried she would lose him after the crash.

“It all happened so fast,” she said.

“I felt like I was going to die.”

She said she now felt hopeless, alone, overthought things, and worried she would never look beautiful for her husband again.

Flowers’ Legal Aid lawyer said it was clear from the footage that her client, who wasn’t injured from the crash, didn’t stop at the intersection as she was supposed to.

She said her client had no criminal history, no driving record and hadn’t seen the motorcycle, saying it happened about twilight and that motorcycles were smaller than other vehicles.

She also said her client had begun waking from nightmares after the incident and had shown remorse that was “unreserved in its nature”.

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Magistrate Hunter said it appeared some of the injuries suffered by the victims were life-long.

She said Flowers had broken the law by not stopping when she should have and she should have seen the motorcycle.

However, she accepted her actions were “a momentary lapse of judgement” and described the incident as an accident.

“As a result of that momentary lapse, two people’s lives were turned upside down,” she said.

“Even a momentary lapse of judgement can result in terrible consequences.”

Flowers pleaded guilty to charges of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

She was convicted, sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour order and had her driver’s licence disqualified for six months.

After the sentencing, Flowers approached her two victims as they stood outside the courtroom and hugged them both. They hugged her back.

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