Its finally time to admit it – it is open season on cyclists in Australia.
Early in the morning on January 5th 2014, Brendan Braid was riding alone along the Old Princes Highway. At approximately 6:20am a car driven by Talia Jade Van-Rysewyk hit Brendan, flinging him into the verge with multiple spinal injuries. Fortunately another group of cyclists riding the same route arrived a few minutes late and rendered appropriate aid.
At about the same time, Van-Rysewyk was busy posting an alibi on Facebook, and most certainly NOT reporting to the nearest police station (she was picked up a few days later1), administering first aid nor waiting for the emergency services.
After more than a year, she finally deciding that lying to the police was no longer an option, and pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasionally grievous bodily harm and failing to stop and assist following an accident.
Last Thursday, at Kiama Court, Magistrate Geraldine Beattie handed out the weak-sauce sentence of 18 months, which the defense lawyer immediately appealed ‘due to severity’. At worst, this disgusting waste of DNA will be out in 9 months, whereas her victim has to live the rest of his life with health problems.
This sentence goes completely against ‘Brendans Law’ which was introduced explicitly to tackle weak sentences handed down to hit and run drivers.
From Monday, 13 February 2006, the Crimes Amendment (Road Accidents) (Brendan’s Law) Act 2005 increased the maximum penalty for drivers who fail to stop after a vehicle impact to 10 years imprisonment where a person has been killed and up to seven years in the case of grievous bodily harm. Lengthy periods of licence disqualification also apply.
The legislation requires a driver to stop and give any assistance that may be necessary and that is in their power to give if the driver knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the vehicle impact has resulted in death or grievous bodily harm to a person. [Australasian Legal Information Institute]
“Up to seven years” – I cannot understand, in anyway whatsoever how the sentence handed down was less than this. Brendan was left with two fractured vertebrae, a broken femur, a cracked pelvis, fractured ankle and WAS LEFT FOR DEAD. The collision itself may well have been unintended, but to not stop and assist following that, shows a disgusting lack of humanity.
Coupled with the denial for more than a year, and the faked Facebook status (which one may view as an attempt to fabricate evidence, also known as attempting to pervert the cause of justice), the sentence of 18 months once again shows that the Australian Judiciary have no interest in the protection of cyclists.
The only way this sort of incident will ever been taken seriously in this country is if a well loved Australian sports person or musician is left severely disabled in such an incident. Then, finally, cyclists might start to be seen as human by general population, and not just something that impedes their perceived divine right to get wherever they want as fast as possible.
- Plenty of time to let the alcohol and/or drugs to metabolise perhaps↑