Jail for L-driver over death crash

A TEENAGE learner-driver, who caused the death of a friend in a high-speed road crash while trying to escape police, has been jailed for at least three years.

The young offender, who cannot be named, had previously been sentenced in Queensland after being involved in a road smash in which people were injured.

In his latest offence, the Ipswich youth was aged 17 and driving a 1992 model Suzuki Swift when the crash occurred on the New England Highway at Bolivia Hill, south of Tenterfield, just after midnight on January 18 last year.

His 21-year-old friend was killed. Two other passengers aged 17 and 24 received serious injuries.

Police said the youth drove at speeds of up to 140km/h north along the highway from Deepwater, north of Glen Innes, before losing control of his mother’s Suzuki and hitting a rock wall.

At the time he was on probation and should not have been driving or left his home State.

Now 18, the youth pleaded guilty in Lismore District Court to aggravated dangerous driving causing death when escaping police pursuit, and aggravated dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

In Crown submissions before Judge James Black, the tragedy was described as a ‘mid-range’ offence.

Police first tried to stop the youth at Deepwater because of an illegal turn.

The Crown revealed the youth had previous traffic convictions in Queensland, including a guilty plea in July 2007 at Ipswich Children’s Court to a charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.

He received 12 months’ detention to be served as a conditional release with two years’ probation.

“He was on probation at the time of the Bolivia offence and one condition was that he must not leave Queensland,” the Crown stated.

Judge Black was asked that his sentencing include deterrence to show ‘deliberate irresponsible driving will not be tolerated.’

Defence barrister Peter O’Connor successfully pleaded for his client to serve the sentence in a juvenile detention centre.

Judge Black sentenced the youth to five years, three years non-parole, and took into account the 12 months already served.

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