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Judgment handed down in DPP v Trueman

23 February 2017

The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against the sentence imposed on Michael Patrick Trueman. Mr Trueman had pleaded guilty to charges including two counts of culpable driving causing death and one count of negligently causing serious injury, and had been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years and six months.  

Mr Trueman was under the influence of methylamphetamine (ice) when his vehicle crashed into a minibus carrying residents of a nursing home. Two of the residents died, and one was rendered a quadriplegic.

Mr Trueman was on the way to place flowers on his brother’s grave at the time of the accident. He was speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road. Mr Trueman had a number of prior convictions for driving related offences and his driver’s licence had been cancelled at the time of the accident. There were a number of mitigating circumstances, including that he was relatively young (23 at the time of the accident), had pleaded guilty at an early stage and demonstrated genuine remorse.

The Director of Public Prosecutions argued that the sentence was manifestly inadequate. The Director also submitted that the sentencing judge had failed to apply Harrison & Rigogiannis v The Queen (‘Harrison’) in which the Court of Appeal had held sentences for negligently causing serious injury when driving should increase. That decision had been handed down after Mr Trueman had entered a plea of guilty at a committal hearing, but before his plea on arraignment at his trial.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the Director’s appeal.  The judge had dealt with all the relevant sentencing considerations. In particular, the judge carefully considered the need for general and specific deterrence.

The Court said that the sentencing judge’s treatment of the applicability of Harrison had been incorrect, but held this was not an error which required the Court’s intervention. In the circumstances of the case, Harrison did not require a longer sentence to be imposed. The appeal was dismissed.

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

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