Driver charged over double fatal crash asks court for mercy
An allegedly distracted driver who rear-ended a car, killing two men, should be granted mercy because her ailing mother relies on her care, a court has heard.
Jodie Ann Contacolli, 46, is charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing the deaths of Jamie Drummond, 64, and his front seat passenger Peter Turner, 77, at Laceby near Wangaratta on June 13, 2020.
Ms Contacolli was on her way to collect her mother to go shopping when her 4WD ploughed into the back of Mr Drummond’s Holden sedan which had slowed down to turn, the Victorian County Court was told.
At the time she was travelling at the posted 100 km/h speed and became distracted by her two-year-old daughter in the back seat, prosecutors allege.
The crash was witnessed by Mr Drummond’s son Trevor, who ran to the vehicle but both his father and his passenger were unresponsive.
The force of the collision forced the vehicles 44 metres from the point of impact.
Ms Contacolli was treated for a fractured wrist and bruising, while her daughter needed stitches on her chin.
Crash reconstruction experts put Ms Contacolli’s speed at about 99 to 106 km/h when it hit the Holden, which was travelling about 21-35 km/h, the court was told.
A psychological report presented to Judge Michael Cahill on Friday said Ms Contacolli was diagnosed with post traumatic stress after the crash, making a jail sentence weigh more heavily on her, than others.
“The impact is going to be different substantially for this woman than somebody who’s not in her situation,” her barrister Philip Dunn QC said.
Her mother, who has dementia, also relied on her care.
Ms Contacolli’s father Ian Dowell said his wife’s health had gone downhill and she was totally dependent on them.
“I could not cope without my daughter,” he told the court, adding if she wasn’t around he’d “probably have to break my promise to my wife and put her in a nursing home”.
However, crown prosecutor Neill Hutton argued the case was not exceptional and jail time should be imposed.
“Every person going to prison is going to be removed from normal family environments, from their children and caring for their parents. That’s kind of normal,” he said.
“Given it has resulted in two deaths, it’s a significant offence.”
But Mr Dunn put the case at the “lower end”.
“There’s a certain grim reality about what’s going on here - her mother is suffering and she’s declining and she’s in a twilight period. She still recognises her daughter and she calls for her,” he said.
“These are substantial and compelling reasons why at a particular point of a person’s life it’s something out of the ordinary.”
Ms Contacolli is yet to enter a formal plea.
Judge Cahill adjourned the matter for a sentence indication hearing next Friday.
Originally published as Driver charged over double fatal crash asks court for mercy
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