THE survival of three Wickliffe-Lake Bolac footballers after a car plunged into a creek, killing a mate, was a miracle, a county court judge has said.
Nanjing Night Net

Judge Graeme Hicks made the comments in sentencing the car’s driver, Dean McInnes, to serve a minimum of 12 months in prison. McInnes, 26, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and two charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

He was found not guilty by a Warrnambool County Court jury during February of culpable driving and two counts of negligent driving causing serious injury.

McInnes was driving at about 2.15am on July 2, 2010, when his car plunged into a creek and caused the death of a Magpies teammate David Breen.

The four young men had attended Thursday-night training then gone to the coach’s place to drink alcohol before deciding to go for a joyride drive in McInnes’ station wagon.

McInnes was doing burnouts and donuts and at 2.15am came to grief on the unsealed Back Bushy Creek Road, south of the Glenelg Highway near Glenthompson.

He lost control and clipped a bridge, his car plummeting three metres into the creek and landing on its roof.

McInnes and the two back seat passengers found a pocket of air but Mr Breen did not and drowned.

In 35 minutes of sentencing remarks last Friday, Judge Hicks said McInnes had early in the court proceedings indicated he would plead guilty to lesser charges.

He said it was clear McInnes was genuinely remorseful, shown by the defendant’s remarkably honest manner of his interview with police.

The judge said McInnes had no prior convictions, was still a relatively young person, had been seriously injured, had excellent prospects of rehabilitation and had been forgiven by other people and the families involved in the accident.

However, Judge Hicks said the offences were serious and there had to be denunciation of McInnes’ conduct, which involved drink-driving and erratic driving.

He said McInnes put his three friends in a terrifying situation.

The judge said the defendant’s drinking, the choice to go driving despite poor weather conditions and the erratic and aggressive fishtailing immediately before losing control, were all deliberate actions.

Judge Hicks said McInnes’ moral culpability had to be rated as relatively high.

He said McInnes’ survival and the survival of his two passengers — by virtue of the alarm being raised after a woman nearby heared the crashed car’s horn sounding — could only properly be called a miracle.

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