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    A P-plate driver who killed two cyclists after falling asleep at the wheel has been found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

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      dangerous driving causing death

      The Offence of Dangerous Driving Causing Death

      A P-plate driver who killed two cyclists after falling asleep at the wheel has been found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

      Nicholas Parker was driving in northwest Sydney when the incident occurred.

      He appeared at Parramatta District Court and faced a judge-alone trial on those charges as well as charges of negligent driving causing death.

      Dangerous Driving Charges

      19-year-old Nicholas Parker was driving for less than 10 minutes in Richmond in 2019.

      The court heard that he was travelling to his apprenticeship when he fell asleep and swerved onto the wrong side of the road.

      This led to a head-on collision with cyclists Geoff Havill and Chris Culver who were out for an early morning bike ride.

      Mr Parker told the court that he only had six hours of sleep before getting behind the wheel.

      Witnesses at the scene spoke to him and he told them, “I fell asleep…Did I hit another car?”

      Mr Havill died at the scene while Mr Culver was taken to hospital but did not survive.

      Charges Dismissed

      Judge Deborah Payne presided over the trial. In handing down the decision, she said, “This is a truly tragic case…(but) I must not let sympathy or emotion sway my verdict.”

      Her Honour said that she accepted Parker’s evidence that he “was asleep at the time of the collision”.

      As a result, his actions did not satisfy the definition of ‘dangerous driving’ and he was found not guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death.

      Mr Parker pleaded guilty to crossing onto the wrong side of the road, which is an offence that he can only be fined for.

      He faces court again next month.

      What is Dangerous Driving Causing Death?

      Dangerous driving causing death is an offence under Section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which involves a person driving dangerously who is involved in an impact, and that impact causes the death of another.

      How to Beat a Dangerous Driving Causing Death Charge?

      You can beat a dangerous driving causing death charge if the prosecution cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

      1. You drove a vehicle (this means that you were “in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of a vehicle”);
      2. That vehicle was involved in an impact;
      3. The impact caused death to another person;
      4. At the time of the impact you were:
        • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or
        • driving the vehicle at a speed or in a manner that created a danger to other users of the road.

      What is the Penalty for Dangerous Driving Causing Death?

      The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 10 years’ imprisonment.

      Will You Go to Jail for Dangerous Driving Causing Death?

      There is a strong chance you will go to jail for dangerous driving causing death. Sentencing statistics for dangerous driving causing death show that 96% of offenders were sentenced to some form of imprisonment. 62% of offenders were sentenced to full-time prison. The remaining 4% of offenders received criminal convictions.

      This is why it is important to obtain advice from leading dangerous driving lawyers who have successfully defended hundreds of these charges. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823. Or, you can email info@astorlegal.com.au.

      There are also less serious charges such as the offence of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

      Defences to Dangerous Driving Causing Death

      The following defences to dangerous driving causing death apply:

      1. The speed you were driving was not dangerous;
      2. The manner in which you were driving was not dangerous;
      3. You were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can include if there were drugs or alcohol in your system, but we can prove that they did not affect your driving;
      4. Causation: Your actions were not the cause of the person dying
      5. Identification: Police cannot prove that you were driving the vehicle
      6. Honest and reasonable mistake: You genuinely believed your driving was safe and it was reasonable for you to hold this belief. For example, where your vehicle had a defect.
      7. Duress: You were forced to drive while suspended.
      8. Necessity: You needed to drive in the circumstances (eg. you were escaping a serious assault)

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