Sydney Motorcyclist Charged Over Armed Road Rage Incident

, Sydney Motorcyclist Charged Over Armed Road Rage Incident

Sydney Motorcyclist Charged Over Armed Road Rage Incident

Predatory driving is on the rise! Public awareness and concern over aggressive drivers and road rage is also growing. It is argued that a growing number of people are more fearful of aggressive drivers causing road rage than drunk drivers. It was reported in Sydney that a motorcyclist has been charged following an alleged road rage incident in the city’s western suburbs that involved him threatening another driver while armed with a gun. Luckily for the frightened driver, he had the whole incident recorded on a dash cam. A predatory driving offence is treated very seriously in the Courts and there are strong prospects for the offender to be sentenced to a full-time gaol sentence.

THE STORY

According to 9 news, authorities have alleged the 30-year-old rider had been travelling alongside a Subaru on Sunnyholt Road in Blacktown on a Friday night in heavy traffic when he left his motorcycle and confronted the driver.

In 10 terrifying seconds caught on dashcam footage, the rider can be seen allegedly removing a firearm from within his pants and pointing it through the windscreen at the driver, before hammering it on the car.

“I’ve just had a motorcycle pull up next to my car and bash my window in,” the frightened driver can then be heard telling Triple Zero authorities.

It is alleged the altercation was sparked minutes beforehand by a disagreement about changing lanes.

The bike then allegedly travelled behind the car until it stopped, before the rider attacked.

A fortnight on from the incident, the alleged victim told 9News he is still terrified but feels better that the motorcyclist has since been charged.

The 30-year-old, from Blacktown, remains behind bars tonight and will face Court later this month.

PREDATORY DRIVING

Predatory driving in NSW is when the driver of a vehicle pursues another vehicle in order to cause an impact between the two vehicles. The driver must intend to cause a person in the other vehicle physical harm. Predatory driving occurs even if there is only the threat of a collision between the two vehicles, but they do not actually collide.

Predatory driving is an offence which includes, but is not limited to the following behaviours and action:

  • Use of a motor vehicle to cause fear or harm to another person;
  • Aggressive driving;
  • Tailgating another vehicle; and/or
  • Road rage, which includes verbal abuse, abusive gestures, and aggressive driving;

JURISDICTION

An offence of Predatory Driving is what is known as a “Table 1” offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for it to be dealt with on indictment.

THE LAW

Section 51A of Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states:

“The driver of a vehicle who, while in pursuit of or travelling near another vehicle: (a) engages in a course of conduct that causes or threatens an impact involving the other vehicle, and (b) intends by that course of conduct to cause a person in the other vehicle actual bodily harm, is guilty of an offence.

Maximum penalty

For offenders of Predatory Driving the maximum penalty if heard in the Local Court is two years imprisonment. If the matter is heard in the District Court, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years.

Please note that the penalties mentioned are reserved for the worse case offending.

What must the Prosecution prove?

Since Predatory Driving offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Predatory Driving.

To establish Predatory Driving, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt;

  1. Threat of impact to a person;
  2. Intent to cause harm to the person; and
  3. That the accused was the person who committed the offence.

STATISTICS

The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases.

In Green [2011] HCA 45, the plurity judgment of French CJ, Kiefel and Crennan JJ stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

According to the Sentencing Statistics of Penalties in the Local Court for predatory driving from October 2014 – 23 September 2018, 48.1% of offenders received a prison sentence. 18.5% received a suspended sentence, 14.8% received a community service order, and 11.1% received a section 9 bond. These statistics show the severity of this kind of offending. From 24 September 2018, section 9 bonds were replaced with conditional release orders (CRO). These penalties have the same effect in practice; one can avoid a recorded conviction and be released on certain conditions that must be complied with, generally the main condition is to not commit any offences. If these conditions are breached during the period of the CRO, they will be required to attend Court for that matter and have their predatory driving offence re-sentenced.

To read more about this offence, click here.

If you are interested in reading about the new drink-driving laws that came into effect last month, check out our blog post.

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