Man jailed nine months after two deaths
A GLADSTONE man who drove through an intersection while drunk, causing the death of his two best friends, said nothing when he was jailed for at least nine months yesterday.
Roy Marshall Priestley pleaded guilty in Gladstone District Court to dangerous driving causing death while affected by an intoxicating substance.
Crown Prosecutor Justin Whalley said at 8.30pm on May 25, 2002 Priestley drove his Hyundai sedan through a give way sign, and onto the intersection of Anne and Derby streets.
A McCafferty's bus and his vehicle collided, killing 19-year-olds Mark Wilson and Clinton Mossman.
The pair were described as popular apprentices who had their lives ahead of them.
A sample was taken at 10.15pm showing Priestley had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.089 per cent. One doctor estimated that at the time of the collision it could have been as high as 0.124 per cent.
On two occasions Priestley told police he had no recollection of the event, however Mr Whalley said he had told an ambulance officer at the scene he was travelling at 100kph. The Crown said the statement was immaterial anyway as the case relied on Priestley driving straight through the give way sign.
Mechanical inspections of Priestley's Hyundai and the bus cleared both of any fault that would have contributed to the deaths.
Mr Whalley said the offence carried a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, then endeavoured to explain why the case had taken nearly three years to get to sentencing.
He said a dispute of facts had slowed progress but added: 'I really can't explain why it took police one year to charge him.'
It was revealed Priestley had been breached for failing to stop at a stop sign during a separate incident, however details on that offence could not be obtained.
In January 2001 he was fined for speeding at 120kph in a 100kph zone, then again for doing 74kph in a 60kph zone four months prior to the deaths.
The parents of Mark Wilson told the court through a victim impact statement they did not want Priestley to go to jail. They said it would not deter others, and would be counter productive to Priestley.
Instead they asked if he could spend time at high schools telling students about his case, in the hope it would help prevent a similar incident.
Judge GT Britton sentenced Priestley to three years jail, suspended after nine months for an operational period of three years. He also recorded a conviction and suspended him from driving for three years.
Outside court Mr Wilson's father David said he was disappointed the recommendation had not been taken on board, believing similar sentences were used in New South Wales. He questioned why police took so long to lay the charge.