Six years jail for paralysing local dad
BRASSALL dad Darren Webster says he holds no ill will towards the speeding driver who condemned him to a life in a wheelchair.
But that didn't stop him feeling pleased when the driver, Rhyce Maxwell Jones, 29, was this week sent to jail for six years for his actions.
Indeed, he thought the penalty could have been even harsher.
Mr Webster, 38, still finds it hard to talk about the crash that changed his life.
He had been sitting in a parked car outside a Booval convenience store when Jones' vehicle, travelling at an estimated 104kmh, smashed into the back of him.
Mr Webster's car was pushed forward into another parked car and crumpled as if it had been made of paper.
"The last thing I remember is putting my seatbelt on. When I woke up I was in hospital - I had been in a coma for a week."
At Ipswich District Court, Mr Webster sat in on the sentencing and had tears in his eyes as he re-lived the nightmare of the event.
"At first I was angry with Mr Jones and what he did to me but if I held on to the anger I knew I wouldn't be able to carry on with my life," he said.
"At the end of the day what's done has been done, I just wanted to see Mr Jones take responsibility for his actions."
It is now more than five years since that fateful day. After the incident, Jones fled to Tasmania and remained there until late last year.
In court, Jones pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm due to excessive speeding in a vehicle.
He was sentenced to six years in prison with a parole release date of September 25, 2016, and disqualified from driving indefinitely.
Mr Webster said he was pleased to see Jones charged, but expected the penalty to be harsher.
"In two years he will be free again but I'm going to be in this chair for the rest of my life," he said. "When you weigh that up, it doesn't seem to balance."
Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said Jones had been hostile towards police and emergency crews after the incident on May 16, 2009, and refused to submit to a blood test at the scene.
Witnesses said Jones appeared drunk and, while empty bottles of alcohol were found in the rear seat of his mangled Holden, Jones' defence barrister Geoff Seaholme said there was no factual evidence that Jones had been drinking.
Mr Webster was cut from the wreckage and rushed to the Princess Alexandra Hospital where he spent the next six months recovering.
Despite the guilty plea, Judge Greg Koppenol said there was no suggestion that Jones was remorseful for what he had done.
Judge Koppenol said Jones had a "poor" traffic history and had committed many offences since the crash.
He also noted the offence was in breach of a suspended jail term Jones had for assault occasioning bodily harm.
HIS WORDS: DARREN Webster is lucky to be alive.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, internal bleeding and spinal injuries that resulted in paraplegia.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Webster said there were days where he cried as he thought about his future.
The father of four said he was in pain each day and had to learn how to use his reduced bodily functions and manage bladder and bowel routines.
"What has happened to me has changed everything, I have to look at life from a different angle now," he said. "I used to do everything for myself and didn't rely on anyone. I now need carers and help to get things done.
Mr Webster's friend, Vincent Iremia, who was in the driver's seat of the car which was hit, also suffered serious injuries.