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Text message driver escapes jail

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Text message driver escapes jail

Old 11-09-03, 11:49 PM
  #1  
Dutchy
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Text message driver escapes jail

From The Australian (newspaper)

November 10, 2003

A YOUNG female driver who killed a cyclist while she was text messaging will walk free after a judge today gave her a fully suspended two-year prison sentence.
Silvia Nicole Ciach, 24, of Curlewis, pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death after her car smashed into a bicycle ridden by 36-year-old Anthony Marsh on Port Arlington Road, near Geelong, on December 31, 2001.

The County Court in Geelong was told earlier that Ciach had not seen Mr Marsh's bicycle because she was writing a text message to let a friend in Melbourne know she would be meeting her at one o'clock.

Judge Susan Cohen said the circumstances of the offence illustrated how relatively simple acts in the driving of the motor car could have devastating consequences.

"It is tragic that a man's life was lost in these circumstances but this case should serve as a stark warning to all that the risk is very real and with the extended use of mobile phones generally more public attention should be drawn to this risk," Judge Cohen said.

However she said she took into account Ciach's guilty plea, her excellent character and the fact the dead man's parents did not wish her to be imprisoned.

Judge Cohen sentenced Ciach to two years imprisonment, fully suspended, and disqualified her from driving for two years.

--------

This is wrong! I have already told my wife that if I should ever come to grief while riding, I want her (lawyers) to push for the driver to do time in jail.

CHEERS.

Mark
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Old 11-09-03, 11:57 PM
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I think I'm gonna puke.
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Old 11-10-03, 12:28 AM
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I was really pissed off when I heard about this story, the sentence is a bloody disgrace.
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Old 11-10-03, 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Dutchy
"It is tragic that a man's life was lost in these circumstances but this case should serve as a stark warning to all that the risk is very real and with the extended use of mobile phones generally more public attention should be drawn to this risk," Judge Cohen said.
Did Ms Cohen not perceive the opportunity to do just that?

Originally Posted by Dutchy
However she said she took into account Ciach's guilty plea, her excellent character and the fact the dead man's parents did not wish her to be imprisoned.
WTF is up with that? Granted, imprisoning the guilty party isn't going to bring the victim back, but somehow I feel that if the death had been by an "accidental" gun or knife wound, the dead man's parents would be calling for blood. Once again I make the point, if anyone on this list has a desire to kill someone at any stage, you'll get off a lot more lightly if you use a car and plead the old "accident" line than if you use a gun or a knife.

If only Martin Bryant had thought about that...
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Old 11-10-03, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Dutchy
Judge Susan Cohen said the circumstances of the offence illustrated how relatively simple acts in the driving of the motor car could have devastating consequences.
Yup – there certainly were “devastating consequences” for the innocent cyclist, his family and friends. However, there are NO consequences @ all for the irresponsible driver. Yup, that’s sending the right message to the driving public.

She knew that "text messaging" while driving could have this sort of outcome - yet, she did it anyway. She could have made the decision to pull over, but she didn't. She could have made the responsible decision, knowing the possible consequences, but she didn't. Instead she ended a man's life.

Disgusting to the point of absurdity.
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Old 11-10-03, 05:08 PM
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BARFFFFFFF

2 years isn't enough! people with maryJ get a harder sentence then that!
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Old 11-10-03, 07:37 PM
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At a bare minimum, Ms. Ciach should be required to make monthly payments to the victim's family for the rest of her life, and she should be required to spend one day per week advocating motoring safety. Her driving privilege should have been suspended for more than 2 years.
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Old 11-10-03, 09:09 PM
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Old 11-12-03, 07:22 AM
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Put the judge and the driver in jail!!
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Old 11-12-03, 10:42 AM
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If my dog can have a microchip in her neck to facilitate return if she should ever get lost (not likely, indoor dog who is always walked leashed) then why can't a driver who has committed a HOMICIDE have a chip programmed to induce a grand mal siezure when they so much as ride in an automobile? This one looks like Clockwork Orange time to me!
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Old 11-12-03, 11:50 AM
  #11  
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Two years without being able to drive a car? Oh, the pain, the harshness of the legal system... gah.

I'm not certain the judge should be allowed to drive, either... doesn't one have to pass some sort of test that requires a modicum of intelligence before being given a lisence? This ruling gets an automatic failing grade in any intelligence test. How did she get appointed judge, anyhoo? Did she have an assistant wiping the drool off her chin and wear dark glasses to hide her vacant, unfocused gaze during confirmation hearings? Yeech.
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Old 11-12-03, 12:53 PM
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I think you're all being extremely harsh.

The victims parents have shown compassion and understanding. I'm certain that if THEY had wanted the driver put in gaol the judge would have taken it into consideration and a custodial sentence would have been likely.

The driver has to live with the consequences of her thoughtless actions for the rest of her life. If the victims parents can see the futility of a gaol sentence I don't see that anyone here has the right to critisise their wishes.

There is a HUGE difference between deliberately running someone down and a moments inattention that has had tragic consequences for all. And NO I'm not in any shape or form condoning using mobile phones while operating a large piece of machinery!
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Old 11-12-03, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus
The driver has to live with the consequences of her thoughtless actions for the rest of her life. If the victims parents can see the futility of a gaol sentence I don't see that anyone here has the right to critisise their wishes.
I have never understood this whole "live with the consequences of her thoughtless actions" bit. The way most people around here drive, I would think it unlikely for people in such a situation to feel any remorse whatsoever. Possible perhaps, but certainly not likely. Either way, the judge talks about the importance of "bringing incidents like this to the public's attention" then fails to do so.

Originally Posted by Cirrus
There is a HUGE difference between deliberately running someone down and a moments inattention that has had tragic consequences for all.
Had the "moments inattention" involved a gun or a knife or virtually any other device that led to similar consequences, there would have undoubtedly been a custodial sentence. In any case, this wasn't a "moments inattention" - this was a blatant failure to pay attention to what one is doing. There was no mitigating factor here - texting while driving is something that simply should not be done. The punishment should reflect that.

I have long advocated compulsory IQ tests before handing out licences. Anyone stupid enough to text while driving would undoubtedly fail any test that required a reasonable standard of basic intelligence.

Originally Posted by Cirrus
The victims parents have shown compassion and understanding.
Not sure compassion and understanding is the word, perhaps lack of faith in the legal system is more appropriate, given the number of cases like this that have occurred (even in situations where the victim's family have actively pursued a custodial sentence) where little has been done. Perhaps even they, too, have been brainwashed by the old "cycling is dangerous" perception and felt that this death was somehow "inevitable". Sounds more like a "lack of understanding" than any understanding to me.
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Old 11-12-03, 02:02 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Allister
I think I'm gonna puke.
Is this Judge on the same planet as the rest of us? Judges like this promote crime and irresponsible behavior by refusing to issue punishment of any signifigance.

Who the h#ll put this moron in the judges chair? If I were the public I'd be trying to revoke the seat and elect a new one.
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Old 11-12-03, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus
I think you're all being extremely harsh.

The victims parents have shown compassion and understanding. I'm certain that if THEY had wanted the driver put in gaol the judge would have taken it into consideration and a custodial sentence would have been likely.

The driver has to live with the consequences of her thoughtless actions for the rest of her life. If the victims parents can see the futility of a gaol sentence I don't see that anyone here has the right to critisise their wishes.

There is a HUGE difference between deliberately running someone down and a moments inattention that has had tragic consequences for all. And NO I'm not in any shape or form condoning using mobile phones while operating a large piece of machinery!
No I think we are not being harsh if it was oops I hit a tree or dented my fender because of my distration (that is a self made distraction) then okay 2 years probation. But her inattention took someones life and yes she does have to live with it but she should be serving some kind of sentance as well as community service work.
Its called justice, seeing that you are from our area remember the incident on I-405 when a women yqaking on the phone slammed into a car and killed an entire family and walked away from it because the authorities couldn't find anything she had done wrong (even though she was reportadly going 80MOH by my calculation thats 20MPH over the speed limit on that section of highway.
Drivers are getting away with murder when its oops I wasn't paying attention. Try that at work sometime and see what happens. Our society is really starting to irk me with the "I am not responsible for my actions" cr@p thats has become way to popular.
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Old 11-12-03, 03:10 PM
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ngateguy, I think the difference in this case is that the person involved pleaded guility and the victims parents have forgiven her. The tragic case on 405 last year was completely different in that the driver wouldn't even admit that they'd made a mistake. IN that case, they should have thrown the book at her.

We've all made mistakes. Sometimes it's just sheer bl00dy good luck that no-one (self included!) has been injured or killed.
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Old 11-12-03, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus
ngateguy, I think the difference in this case is that the person involved pleaded guility and the victims parents have forgiven her.
All a guilty plea should mean is that a long drawn out court case is avoided. It doesn't change the severity of the crime. I'm glad that the family of the victim have forgiven her, this is very healthy, but again that doesn't change what happened, and as a society we need to see justice being served irrespective of all these touchy feely sentiments. I can't see any logical reason why the feelings of the family are at all relevant when it comes down to sentencing. It is not up to them.

What sort of priorities are the courts promoting when people who merely steal a few hundred or even a few million dollars serve 20 years, but murderers and ******s are walking out of court with a slap on the wrist?

Here's the nub. It's not unusual that someone feels bad about commiting a crime when they get caught. The fact is that she wasn't momentarily distracted, she was deliberately acting in a way that was a considerable distraction from the task of controlling a motor vehicle. Apart from anything else, what she was doing is illegal and she must have at least known that. This was no accident.
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Old 11-12-03, 07:24 PM
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Even if the judge didn't want to impose a jail sentence, he should have banned the driver from driving for 5 years, 12 months of community service (preferably at an accident rehabilitation centre) and banned her from EVER having a mobile again!

CHEERS.

Mark
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Old 11-12-03, 08:07 PM
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Think positive, Folks. The good news is that the driver had a cell phone to call in the accident after she hit the bicyclist.

Maybe the judge took that into consideration.
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Old 11-13-03, 09:01 AM
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Whenever I'm on the road, driving, bicycling or walking down the sidewalk, and I see someone do something really idiotic, I look at the back of their head and I almost always see them holding a small thing next to their ear.

I almost got hit in a crosswalk by a lady on a cellphone. Good thing I shouted at her, or she might have crashed head-on into a four lanes of one-way traffic waiting at a red light. She just looked annoyed and whipped it back around in the correct direction.

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Old 11-13-03, 01:26 PM
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Without a license maybe the driver will end up riding a bike! Just a thought...
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Old 11-13-03, 01:37 PM
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Best case for public flogging I've seen this week.
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Old 11-24-03, 01:44 AM
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Judges are appointed by other judges in Australia.

The only person who can sack that judge is the Queen. The parliament can sack a judge only with an absolute majority, which is unlikely to occur for political reasons, and even then, since many MPs are lawyers, they are very reluctant to do so.

Even then, because of the rule of 'double jeopardy' the case cannot be re-tried. To try the case on another charge, you need the Attorney-General to do it - and they will not do so on principle, since they appointed the judge (they would be 'defaming the authority of the Court'). They would normally only do so if this was requested by the judge in the case.

Criminal law is generally poor at punishing actions which are not deliberate - failure to predict consequences of actions is really only actionable under civil law.
The driver was probably prosecuted not under crriminal law, but offences to the traffic code.
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