Stoned Fairy Meadow crash dad avoids jail

A Fairy Meadow man responsible for a head-on car crash in which his two children were injured has been spared a full-time jail sentence.

The children, aged three and four, were buckled into safety seats at the car’s rear when their father steered them over double unbroken lines and into the path of an oncoming car on Pioneer Road at Towradgi, August 23, 2012.

The man was attempting an overtaking maneuveure after the car ahead - preparing to turn into the North Dalton Sports Park - came to a halt.

He has since pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

In Wollongong District Court Friday, Judge Paul Conlon considered reports showing the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a history of abusing cannabis and alcohol, and was under the effect of cannabis at the time of the car crash, ‘‘to the extent that his driving ability would have been impaired’’. 

He and the two children were trapped and later hospitalised, with the most serious injuries befalling his four-year-old son, who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

The boy had since made an ‘‘amazing recovery’’, the court heard, but had lasting problems including diabetes and sweet dysgeusia - a disorder of taste - directly resulting from the crash.

The younger child had only cuts and abrasions. 

In sentencing, Judge Conlon said the man had erred in his responsibilities to his passengers and other road-users. 

‘‘His culpability is high,’’ he said.

‘‘The potential for danger was extreme. It was a miracle that one of the occupants in the other car was not killed or severely injured.’’

Judge Conlon considered the man’s driving record, which included a past conviction for mid-range drink driving. 

He further noted the man had suffered a ‘‘serious illness’’ in 2004, which had resulted in serious cognitive behavioural issues.

A psychologist’s report showed he had a psychological vulnerability, and had been prescribed prescription medication for pain and bipolar disorder. 

He handed the man a two-year suspended jail sentence and banned him from driving for two years.