A heavily pregnant woman has made an emotional plea to a judge not to send her partner back to jail for crashing his car while on a cocktail of drugs and leaving her with a fractured spine.
Craig Elliott, 28, was sentenced to three years behind bars for a horror crash which seriously injured his girlfriend and friend — but he may be freed so he can father his child.
According to agreed facts, the then-27-year-old was driving in Woolooware in South Sydney shortly before midnight on April 29 last year when he crashed into a parked Toyota ute, causing his Kia Stonic to be pushed underneath the tray.
His two passengers — his new girlfriend and friend — were seriously hurt, with the former suffering hairline fractures to her back and ribs and latter enduring life-threatening injuries.
Forensic tests later revealed Elliott had meth, GBH (or liquid ecstasy) and Xanax in the hours before he crashed.
After pleading guilty to dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm while under the influence, causing bodily harm by misconduct while in charge of a motor vehicle and driving under influence of drugs, Elliott was sentenced last December to three years in prison, with a non-parole period of 20 months.
But Elliott immediately filed an appeal for the severity of the sentence and was released on bail.
During the appeal application at Downing Centre District Court on Tuesday, Elliot‘s girlfriend gave emotional evidence as Elliott’s lawyer argued the sentence should be downgraded to one that can be served in the community.
The heavily pregnant woman — the same woman who was injured in the crash — told the court she had been “very overwhelmed and scared” at the prospect of her baby’s father and only financial source going to jail.
The court heard she’d been diagnosed with Preeclampsia, a high blood pressure disorder that can occur during pregnancy, which she linked to high stress.
“I’m supposed to be due on the 21st March but I’ll be having it in two weeks because of the stress and have scheduled an elective C-section,” she told the court.
Through tears, the woman spoke about the night of the crash. She said she had only been with Elliott a few months and the pair had been at the pokies earlier in the night, where she won $5,000.
She said she was not aware Elliott had taken drugs with friends when she got into the car with him and his friend to drive home, otherwise she “wouldn’t have let him drive”.
Despite suffering four hairline fractures to her spine and a fractured rib which she spent six weeks in hospital for, the woman stood by her partner and became pregnant a few months later.
She told the court Elliott was “the best” after the accident, staying by her side in hospital and “making it so easy compared to what it could have been”.
The court heard he “felt so guilty” and she had noticed “so many changes in him” since the incident, including gaining employment as an electrician and financially supporting both of them.
She said he had been clean from drugs since the incident and was determined to stay sober.
The crown prosecutor argued Elliott should be sent to jail given he was driving while disqualified and on a good behaviour bond at the time of the offence.
Judge Warwick Hunt adjourned the decision on whether to grant Elliott’s appeal for three months. He said he would consider whether putting him in prison would be appropriate when he was employed and had a supportive family.
“I’m going to reassess (the situation) in three months when he’s a new dad,” Judge Warwick said.
“I take into account there was more than one drug involved in terms of his blood, and I take into account there’s in fact no evidence about substantial ongoing injury to (the other passenger)”.
Under his new bail conditions, Elliott must continue rehabilitation, abstain from drugs and alcohol and not drive a motor vehicle.
The case is due to return to court for resentencing on May 3.
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