Banhelyi gets 5 years
Jessica Lance court case
DRIVER Charles Banhelyi may be the only one who will ever really know what happened on the day teenager Jessica Lance died after maintaining his epilepsy defence at sentencing.
The 68-year-old pensioner yesterday stuck by his claim of blacking out behind the wheel on July 8, 2009, despite being found guilty of dangerous operation of a motor veh i c l e w h i l e e x c e s s i v e l y speeding causing death to the 18-year-old and grievous bodily harm to her 22-yearold sister.
‘‘ He remains unable or unwilling to recall details of that day beyond what he told medical staff, police officers and the court,’’ defence barrister Frank Richards said.
‘‘ He believes he suffers from epilepsy and will continue to be treated for the condition.’’
Banhelyi’s belief flies in the face of the jury’s verdict, which found the defendant did not suffer a seizure when he smashed into a motorcyclist at a red light, fled the scene at speeds of up to 135km/ h, before crossing into oncoming traffic and slamming into the Lance sisters’ car in front of dozens of witnesses.
T h e y a g r e e d wi t h t h e Crown’s evidence, which ruled out an epileptic event and argued Banhelyi’s trail of destruction on Charters Towers Rd at 8.30am on a busy Monday morning was caused by inattention, then panic, as he sped away more than 40km/ h over the speed limit.
Crown prosecutor Michael Cowen gave an insight, not heard in the six-day trial, of the devastating effect the accident had on Ms Lance’s sister, who was driving the pair that day. She spent 17 c a nt c r i minal c o nduct. ’ ’
The judge took into account Banhelyi’s good character and lack of criminal history when handing down a fiveyear sentence on an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years.
An absolute disqualification from driving was also imposed, which means he will never be able to hold a driver’s licence.