03 May 2016

Dangerous driving causing death: Sentence unchanged

The sentence imposed on a P-plate driver  found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a 19-year-old woman will remain unchanged, following the Court of Appeal's dismissal yesterday of appeals by both the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the offender.

DPP John Champion S.C. had appealed the sentence of 21 months' imprisonment and a two-year Community Correction Order given to Stephen Sismanoglou on the basis it was manifestly inadequate.

Sismanoglou -  who had pleaded guilty in the County Court to one charge of dangerous driving causing death and two charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury following a vehicle collision on St Kilda Road, St Kilda, about 4.30 pm on 1 January, 2014 - had appealed the sentence on the grounds it was erroneously high.

The Court of Appeal said the sentence imposed was a "very lenient one" but was not wholly outside the range of sentencing options open to the judge.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeal said the matter presented a difficult sentencing exercise as Sismanoglou was a young man of previously impeccable character, whose behaviour up to the time of offending was exemplary. On the other hand, he had committed serious offences with devastating consequences for the victims and their families and "issues of just punishment, denunciation, general deterrence and specific deterrence loomed large in the sentencing exercise".

The Court of Appeal said Sismanoglou had held a probationary licence for six months when the collision occurred, and he was 18 years old at the time. It had been raining, and the road was wet, and his vehicle was clearly unroadworthy, having a rear tyre that was devoid of tread.

He was travelling in the same direction as another car, containing three young women aged 19, 20 and 21 who were returning from a music festival in Lorne, when he accelerated hard to change lanes, causing his car to 'fishtail', lose control and strike the other car.   Both vehicles collided with a large tree and sustained significant damage.

The 19-year-old female driver suffered severe, life threatening injuries and died in hospital 10 months later. The 21-year-old passenger suffered serious hip, leg and pelvic injuries; and the 20-year-old passenger suffered a broken leg.

View the Court of Appeal ruling here.

For further information contact:

Lisa Walker

03 9603 7493
0400 494 962