Driving that killed three people in Suttontown “bad” but not dangerous, says lawyer

Written by Javed Iqbal

Lawyers for a teenager have insisted his driving was not dangerous, despite being “zone out” before a crash that caused the deaths of three people in south-eastern Australia.

The unnamed 17-year-old boy has in the Juvenile Court pleaded not guilty in three cases of death by dangerous driving.

Millicent residents Ned and Nan Walker and their daughter Sue Skeer was killed in frontal collision on Princes Highway near Suttontown, near Mount Gambier, in November 2020.

The learning driver’s attorney, Bill Boucaut QC, accepted that his client had been driving poorly and without proper care when his four-wheel drive drifted over to the wrong side of the road and collided with the victims’ SUV.

“He zoned out … it’s clear he immediately corrected it when he realized it,” Boucaut said.

“He doesn’t text on his cell phone, yapping at people in the back of the car, fiddling with the music and boom, boom, boom of the music you so often hear when young people walk by with the windows down.”

A woman leans against an elderly man in hat and striped shirt and an elderly woman with glasses, all smiling.
Victims Sue Skeer (left) with her parents Ned and Nan Walker. (Delivered: Jaqcui Verbena)

Sir. Boucaut also said there was “no trace of evidence” that the boy’s autism, ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome had any role to play in the crash.

“Not all bad driving is dangerous driving,” he said.

“All bad driving causes the potential for there to be an accident, that is, not to say it is dangerous driving.”

‘Inattention on a road is dangerous’

Prosecutor Aimee Winra accepted that all drivers made mistakes and none were perfect.

“The prosecution says the driving in this case went beyond what can be considered driving without due care,” she said.

A group of people in coats with umbrellas stand on a highway
Judge Penny Eldridge and others at a site viewing during the trial.(ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside)

Ms Winra said comments from the boy had been captured on police body-worn cameras at the crash site.

“I actually started thinking about school, and I started zoning out of thinking about it, started going out of my way, and the other person was trying to avoid us,” the boy said.

“I was trying to get back on the field and then we both went in the same direction.”

Ms Winra said data from the vehicle showed the boy did not activate the brake until 0.7 seconds before the collision.

“Great inattention regardless of the cause on a road is dangerous,” she said.

Judge Penny Eldridge is expected to reveal his verdict next month.

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Javed Iqbal

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