How one thing leads to another

In Sydney, JN, a “young father,” not yet 16, was run over and killed some time after midnight when, after an argument with his girlfriend, he ran out of his house wrapped only in a blanket (apparently he got up from his bed), and lay down on a 6-lane road.  Witnesses report that, before JN was run over, he punched at a car which slowed as it passed him.  Described variously as a “labourer and promising rugby league player” and a “Year 11 student” at the local high school, he was also reported to have won $40 backing Queensland in the State of Origin match earlier that evening. His girlfriend, also 15, seems to have lived with him and his family; their child is 5 months old.

Ix, the alleged driver, has now turned himself in to police.  Ix was not charged with negligent or dangerous driving, but only with failing to stop and render assistance and driving while disqualified.  Bail was refused.  The Australian reports:

Police prosecutor Sergeant [ ] told the court [Ix] should not be released because he was on breach of bail when the accident happened.

“We’re not trying to sensationalise this matter, it’s a tragedy, but it could be summed up in one comment: he should never have been driving,” [he] told the court.

“If he was following court orders and not driving, the young man would still be alive.”

Given that the dead boy was lying on a busy road (even if not so busy by that time of night), this last statement might be taking things a bit far.

As the Herald reports, the court was also told that Ix:

is separated and has two young children, has a history of criminal and driving offences including dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, assault and robbery.

He was jailed for four years in 1999 for maliciously wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after driving his car at a person.

His licence was most recently disqualified in March 2006 for three years for dangerous driving.

Given all of that, and if Ix has made the admissions he is reported to have made, then you might think there isn’t much scope for a not-guilty plea.  Which is probably just as well, given what has been reported now of his record.  (The Australian adds for good measure that Ix has 21 aliases.)

There is a bit of a history though about the earlier charge which led to the four-year sentence.  You can read the Court of Criminal Appeal’s decision here.  Ix had an altercation with an off-duty police sergeant who took it upon herself to admonish the driver of a car in which Ix was travelling who did an illegal manoeuvre. Ix spat on her car from the passenger seat. She then threw the book at them all and stood in front of the car to stop them driving away. (Is this sort of zeal such a good idea? See also this other story which involves the same officer, and this story which gives an idea of the risks that police heroism can create for others.)

Ix then changed into the driver’s seat and drove at her so that she ended up on the bonnet. After that she fell off and the car went over her leg. The jury had to decide, amongst other things (because there were alternate charges), whether Ix intended to inflict grievous bodily harm on the police sergeant or not. However, this is the sort of defence which is difficult to articulate if your main story is that you weren’t driving at all.

Judge Megan Latham told the jury:

“there has been no real dispute in this trial about the fact that whoever did drive this vehicle at Sergeant Bellemore intended to get her out of the way and in the process, because of the way in which they drove the vehicle at her, intended to cause her serious injury. There has been no real dispute about that. The issue really is about whether or not it was the accused who drove the vehicle. Nonetheless, you have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the ingredients of those charges.”

It was held on appeal that this was OK because her Honour prefaced it with the formulaic words: “I say without wishing to pre-empt what your finding will be of course” and the identity of the driver really was the main issue which had been fought out at the trial.

Judge Latham sentenced Ix to 7 years, with a non-parole period of 4 years. The Court of Criminal Appeal held, “the sentence imposed might be viewed as severe but in all the circumstances it was warranted.”

Obviously, Ix has been in trouble for a few more things after that. If, as Ix reportedly claims, he parked 400 m down the road and started to walk back to see what he had hit, it wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t keep going to “render assistance” when he saw the police there.

6 Responses to “How one thing leads to another”

  1. Victor Says:

    When I first heard this road accident involved a young man naked except for a blanket, my gay side imagined that salacious background details would follow. I realised from what emerged later that this schoolboy parent (JN) was probably doomed one way or another.

  2. The Rabbit Says:

    But do you feel sympathy, Marcel?

  3. marcellous Says:

    That’s a tricky one, R.

    What I meant by my heading was a reaction to how stupid and even wrong actions have rebounded upon each other for the people concerned in a way which seems disproportionately terrible but which is not, at the same time, entirely unpredictable.

    So far as sympathy includes an element of empathy, that’s a harder thing. Without counting the ways, neither JN or Ix was or is really my kind of person nor I theirs. I don’t preclude sympathy on the basis that they deserve what has happened to them, and that includes Ix as well as JN. If I knew them or their families, I am sure I would feel sympathy. From afar, I don’t take the Daily Telegraph‘s brand of “sympathy” seriously at all.

  4. ninglun Says:

    I don’t preclude sympathy on the basis that they deserve what has happened to them, and that includes Ix as well as JN. Exactly. Really, we are not in any position to make a call one way or the other. The fact that there are lifestyle elements different from those we are used to is clear enough, but we can’t really make many judgements on that score without “being there”, as they say. It is a sad story, whatever you make of it.

  5. Legal Eagle Says:

    Indeed, very unfortunate – a terrible congruence of events.

  6. Club Troppo » Missing Link Daily Says:

    […] looks at a weird case that totally defeated my (GT) powers of precis.33. KP: More to hit and run horror than it seems? […]

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