Athlete's broken dreams cost $1000

HARD ROAD BACK: Kane Simpson, the triathlete injured in the car accident, is still battling to regain his fitness as he tries to rebuild his sporting career.
HARD ROAD BACK: Kane Simpson, the triathlete injured in the car accident, is still battling to regain his fitness as he tries to rebuild his sporting career.

A LENNOX HEAD driver who shattered the triathlete aspirations of Kane Simpson when he turned into the path of a group of oncoming cyclists, leaving the young sportsman with a broken leg, has had his punishment reduced.

Jacob Magnus, 21, yesterday won an appeal in the Lismore District Court against the severity of his original sentence, comprising a $2000 fine and three-year disqualification from driving after he was found guilty of negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Simpson at Lennox Head in December 2007.

Yesterday, both his fine and period of disqualification were halved by Judge James Black, who said it could have happened to anyone.

Mr Simpson was riding with six others from the Institute of Sport on their way back to a training camp at Lake Ainsworth when the accident occurred.

He ended up beneath the car after the defendant turned in front of the pack.

Mr Simpson, who was 19 years old at the time, received a broken tibia and fibula, concussion, cuts and bruises and spent a week in hospital.

In the District Court yesterday, defence barrister Gemunu Kumarasinhe argued for a more lenient sentence, but Judge Black was not convinced, citingthe seriousness of the offence and the injuries.

Judge Black said he was quite satisfied there was negligent driving from Magnus. He said it was unfortunate he had not kept a good lookout and seen the cyclist.

The Crown prosecutor opposed leniency, saying it would be inappropriate, but acknowledged the offence did not involve speeding.

Magnus told police he looked before turning across the road, but did not see the cyclists.

Travelling at a speed of 40-50km/h the cyclist applied his brakes and skidded into the side of Magnus's car.

Magnus did not appeal a $300 fine for driving unlicensed after he failed to renew his licence.

Mr Kumarasinhe said Magnus now lived in Sydney and was extremely contrite about the accident.

He told Judge Black the sentencing magistrate found the offence to be on the lower end of negligence.

Judge Black said a licence disqualification was a period of significant hardship to young men and reduced the fine to $1000.

He also varied the disqualification from three years to 15 months, saying there was no reason to impose a bond.


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