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First motorist on careless driving causing death charge loses appeal

The first motorist convicted under Queensland’s careless driving causing death laws has lost an appeal against the wholly suspended five-month jail term she received more than a year ago.

Mirhiri De Silva, 43, was convicted in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on 31 July last year of driving without due care and attention causing the death of 61-year-old motorcyclist David John Lund.

The court was told De Silva, who until then had an unblemished traffic history, turned her Toyota Corolla hatchback into the path of Lund’s motorcycle on Kingston Rd, Underwood, on Brisbane’s southern outskirts, about 6pm on 13 September 2018.

In mid-2018 the Queensland Government introduced a new law carrying a maximum jail term of up to 12 months and licence suspension of up to two years for the offence of driving without due care and attention causing death.

The law change also paved the way for matters to be dealt with by way of the Magistrates Court. Previously, Queensland law only permitted for drivers to be charged with the more serious offence of dangerous driving causing death, which carries prison terms of up to 14 years, and requires cases to be resolved by higher courts.

De Silva recently appealed against her five-month prison term, which was wholly suspended for two years, in the Beenleigh District Court on the grounds the sentence was manifestly excessive.

District Court Judge Craig Chowdhury, in a 16-page decision handed down last Friday, dismissed De Silva’s appeal, saying: “It was open to the learned Magistrate to impose the sentence he did.

“In my view, (De Silva’s) driving came close to the border of dangerous. She failed to keep a proper lookout, and failed to the see the oncoming motorcycle and turned in its path, causing the fatal collision.

“It was open to the learned Magistrate to impose a period of prison, albeit wholly suspended.”

Judge Chowdhury also noted that, given time, a “pattern of sentencing” would emerge for this relatively new offence.

“It is obvious that the level of penalty for this offence should be greater than the penalties imposed on the offence of driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention simpliciter,” Judge Chowdhury said. “No doubt a pattern of sentencing will emerge as time goes on.”

Read the full decision.

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