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Drunk Qld driver jailed over fatal crash

Jerome Brian Pilot was so drunk when he got behind the wheel after drinking heavily at a party that he doesn’t remember how one of his passengers died.

The then 22-year-old had driven just 1500 metres when he lost control of the car on a sweeping left-hand bend in September 2018.

The vehicle crossed to the wrong side of the road and over a footpath before crashing into a palm tree in the front yard of a home on Samsonvale Road at Bray Park, north of Brisbane.

Front-seat passenger Dion Gundy was killed instantly.

Daniel Hegarty and Christine Extross, both seated in the back of the car, were critically injured.

Pilot, now 25, has no recollection of driving the vehicle or the crash.

His alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit more than two hours after the crash.

At the time he was on parole, with a condition being that he not drink alcohol.

Having committed the offence of dangerous driving causing death and grievous bodily harm, Pilot became “uniquely qualified to become an educator”, telling his story to help others avoid making the same mistake, a Brisbane court heard on Friday.

District Court Judge Ian Dearden said he was “taking off (his) judge’s hat” when he called on Pilot to educate others after the “avoidable collision”.

“It’s not an order, I’m not telling you to do this, just asking you to think about what you might do with your life that provides an opportunity for others to avoid mistakes,” he said while jailing him for up to eight years.

“By telling that story in an educated way then even if you save one other life the universe will be grateful.

“Neither you nor I can bring Dion’s life back. Neither you nor I can give Daniel back his health.

“But if we can avoid another Dion, another Daniel or another Christine suffering death or injury as a result of another vehicle collision that was avoidable, then we’ve done something positive.”

In sentencing Pilot, Judge Dearden said the unnecessary loss of human life and catastrophic effects of the collision would profoundly affect many people.

Mr Hegarty described himself as having no quality of life for 18 months after the accident, according to his victim impact statement referred to in court.

He hoped to be able to walk without a frame and crutches at some stage.

“He (Mr Hegarty) says this, ‘I feel now that I don’t have a life and that … this accident has changed me forever and I will never be the young, bubbly, full-of-life, adventurous and healthy man that I once was which makes me so incredibly sad,” Judge Dearden said.

The judge said there must be a consequence for a person who drinks, gets behind the wheel and then drives dangerously.

“This was not an accident – this was an avoidable collision,” he said.

“The consequences … (were) the completely avoidable death of one young man, the catastrophic grievous bodily harm suffered by the second young man and the less serious grievous bodily harm suffered by the young woman.”

Showing photographs of the mangled car after the crash, Judge Dearden said the vehicle was clearly driven at an excessive speed.

Mr Gundy’s mother Suzanne Gittoes said outside the court family members were “just coping with living everyday” without her eldest boy.

Pilot was sentenced on Friday to eight years behind bars after pleading guilty last year.

Having already spent 21 months in custody, he will be eligible for parole in October.

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