A Defendant pleaded guilty to one charge of reckless driving causing serious injury
On Thursday 22 March 2012, the victim was on her way to work when she crossed Bedford Road intersection. At that time the pedestrian lights were on while the traffic lights went off. Sharon Tang, a driver in the third lane, was travelling at a minimum of 49 kilometres per hour failed to obey the red light and her car crashed into the victim.
The impact caused the victim serious injuries. She was taken to the Alfred Hospital. She had suffered a serious closed head injury involving subdural haematoma, haemorrhage and cerebral contusions. Her face was fractured and bruised. There were fractures to her scapula, tibia and fibula, as well as bruising and abrasions to her body. She was at intensive care for 23 days and could only sit on the wheelchair for an hour, stand for no more than 30 minutes.
The defendant pleaded guilty to one charge of dangerous driving causing serious injury (s 319(1A) of the Crimes Act 1958) and one charge of failing to stop after an accident(s 61(3) of the Road Safety Act 1986). On 7 November 2012 she was sentenced to a total of 2 years’ imprisonment, 14 months suspended for 2 years for both offences.
The defendant appealed her conviction for failing to stop because according to her, the offence of failing to stop was not committed in a case where panic and acting in an autopilot sort of way is the explanation for leaving the scene. The issue is whether the penalty of imprisonment is applicable to a case of failing to stop after an accident founded upon panic and confusion of the driver.
The Court ruled against her argument and stated that although it is true that defendant's decision to drive on was not a carefully calculated one but rather motivated by panic. She was still in breach of duty, to depart the scene of an accident in circumstances where it is likely to be inferred that she did so to avoid the consequences of unlawful conduct. The consequence is imprisonment in any case of this breach. Also, the court notes that she must expect a term of imprisonment taking into account the horrific harm suffered by the victim. The appeal was dismissed.
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Source: Tang v The Queen  VSCA 31
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