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Judgment handed down in Spanjol v The Queen

14 December 2016

The Court of Appeal (President Maxwell, Justice Redlich and Justice McLeish) today dismissed an appeal against sentence for negligently causing serious injury by driving.

The offender pleaded guilty after crashing his car while intoxicated and causing extensive injuries to his then girlfriend, who was a passenger in the car. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 18 months.

He sought a reduction in sentence on the basis that the passenger had chosen to travel with him knowing that he was drunk, and was therefore ‘complicit’ in his negligent driving.

The Court of Appeal held that the offender’s moral culpability could not be reduced if the passenger was aware that he was drunk. The driver was solely responsible for the negligent driving.

The offender also submitted that, as the passenger did not wear her seatbelt, she had contributed to the seriousness of her injuries.

The Court held that, on the evidence, it was not shown that the passenger’s failure to wear her seatbelt had contributed to the seriousness of her injuries. In any case, since the driver was responsible for ensuring that his passenger was wearing her seatbelt, this was a matter to which little weight needed to be attached.

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NOTE:  This summary is necessarily incomplete. It is not intended as a substitute for the Court’s reasons or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons.  The only authoritative pronouncement of the Court’s reasons and conclusions is that contained in the published reasons for judgment.

Read the Court's full judgment on Austlii(External link)

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