Serious Driving Charges appealed from the Magistrates Court
The client was charged with a total of 28 charges in relation to a car chase spanning Croydon, Bayswater and Boronia. Charges included Reckless Conduct Endangering Life, Drive in a Manner Dangerous, Speeding, Refuse Breath Test and Fail to Stop when Directed by Police.
This case was particularly difficult as it involved a police pursuit and 2 civilian cars were damaged as a result.
The client had a prior history of drink driving and other serious driving offences. She had previously been to gaol for causing her baby injury whilst drink driving. The client instructed that in the weeks leading up to the incident, she had experienced hallucinations and developed extreme paranoia. This developed into an irrational fear that the police were out to get her and that she was in grave danger.
After the arrest, the client’s condition was such that she was treated by a psychiatric nurse and anti-psychotic drugs were administered. Our office arranged for the client to be assessed by both a psychologist and a psychiatrist, who independently verified the client’s unstable mental health.
The matter proceeded as a plea of guilty at the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court whereby the client was sentenced to a 12 month immediate term of imprisonment. This decision was appealed and brought before a Judge at the County Court in Melbourne.
We submitted that due to the client’s condition:
1. The client’s moral culpability was reduced, as the condition impaired her ability to exercise appropriate judgement;
2. That the sentencing principle of “general deterrence” should not apply to the same extent as it would a person in normal mental health; and
3. A term of imprisonment would weigh more heavily on the client than a person in normal mental health.
After a lengthy submissions, the judge re-sentenced the client to 12 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of 24 months. This meant that the client did not have to go to gaol immediately and could avoid gaol completely, should there be no further offending during the 24 month operational period of the suspended sentence.
This was an outstanding outcome which highlights the results that can be achieved with meticulous preparation.