A Sydney mother has been charged with Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm after she allegedly drove into her own daughter while intoxicated.
Dale Palmer, a 58-year-old mother, fronted Sutherland Local Court to face a number of charges related to the incident, including drive with high range PCA.
The alleged victim, Keely Palmer, is the 27-year-old daughter of the Accused.
The case is ongoing with police advising the court that further charges may be laid.
The Police facts claim that Dale Palmer got behind the wheel of the family's Toyota Starlet at 12.40am on Sunday during her son's 21st birthday party.
She is then alleged to have struck her 27-year-old daughter with the vehicle and dragged her 100m down Ash Avenue in Caringbah South.
A police statement released to the media read, "Emergency services were called to Ash Avenue, Caringbah South, about 12.40am and found a 27-year-old woman trapped beneath a Toyota Starlet."
Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Ambulance paramedics took more than an hour to free Keely Palmer. She was then taken to hospital in a serious condition.
She is said to have suffered significant fractures to her right arm and right leg. This appears to be the primary basis of the 'grievous bodily harm' element of the offence. However, past cases have found that a fracture is often not sufficient to meet the definition of grievous bodily harm (see for example R v Swan).
Police attend scene
Officers from Sutherland Police Area Command established a crime scene and commenced investigations into the circumstances surrounding the crash according to a police spokesperson.
Dale Palmer was subjected to roadside breath test which registered a positive reading. As a result she was arrested and taken to Sutherland Police Station. There, a breath analysis was conducted that returned reading of 0.166. This falls into the category of a high range drink driving charge.
The statement from police continued, "The woman, who is from Caringbah South, has now been charged with aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm (PCA), and high-range PCA."
NSW Police Chief Inspector Gary Ford spoke to media outlets and said, "there was a party (at the house) through the evening" but the reasons the Accused was behind the wheel "are unknown".
Dale Palmer appears at Sutherland Local Court
Dale Palmer appeared briefly in court and was granted conditional bail to appear again at Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday.
Her licence has been suspended and she cannot drive until the court dismisses the charges or imposes a disqualification period.
Outside court, Mrs Palmer chose not to speak to reporters when asked if she remembered the incident.
Neighbours also spoke to reporters. Amber Wardrop-Barros, who witnessed the incident, said that she heard what sounded like agonising screams.
"She was just bellowing, crying, screaming. It was pretty shocking.You could just hear her screaming. People were saying, 'Can someone get a jack'. So I thought maybe someone was stuck under a car."
The definition of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm under Section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is a person driving dangerously who is involved in an impact, and that impact causes really serious harm to another.
This is one of the more serious driving offences in NSW.
You can fight a Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm charge in two ways. Firstly, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:
- You drove a vehicle (this means that you were "in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of a vehicle");
- That vehicle was involved in an impact;
- The impact caused grievous bodily harm (ie. really serious harm) to another person;
- At the time of the impact you were:
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or
- driving the vehicle at a speed or in a manner that created a danger to other users of the road.
In addition to the above elements, the prosecution must also prove that a circumstance of aggravation existed. This means that they must prove you either:
- had a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.150 (this must be measured within 2 hours of the impact); or
- were speeding over 45km per hour; or
- were driving to escape a police officer; or
- were under the influence of drugs to such an extent that your ability to drive was substantially impaired.
If the prosecution cannot prove any of the above elements, you will be found 'not guilty' of the offence.
We have a dedicated team of specialist aggravated dangerous driving causing GBH lawyers and experts who have years of experience in fighting these charges.
The statistics since 2018 paint a bleak picture. 100% of offenders were sentenced to some form of imprisonment when their cases were heard in the District Court. 57% of offenders were sentenced to full-time jail.
The statistics for this offence are not unusual, given the guideline judgement.
When imposing an aggravated dangerous driving occasioning GBH sentence, the Court must bear in mind the matters which were set out in the guideline judgement of R v Whyte  NSWCCA.
The guideline held that in an ordinary case, a court must impose a term of full-time imprisonment unless the offender has a low level of criminal responsibility for the accident such as momentary inattention or misjudgement.
What is an ordinary case of Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm?
The following characteristics make up the typical offender in an ordinary case:
- young offender
- of good character with no or limited prior convictions
- death or permanent injury to a single person
- the victim is a stranger
- no or limited injury to the driver or the driver's intimates
- genuine remorse
- plea of guilty of limited utilitarian value.
Further, the Court should impose a penalty of at least 2 years imprisonment for this charge where the offender's criminal responsibility is high.
The circumstances which can increase your criminal responsibility include:
- extent and nature of the injuries inflicted
- number of people put at risk
- degree of speed
- degree of intoxication or of substance abuse
- erratic or aggressive driving
- competitive driving or showing off
- length of the journey during which others were exposed to risk
- ignoring of warnings
- escaping police pursuit
- degree of sleep deprivation
- failing to stop.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.