Ban­helyi gets 5 years

Jessica Lance court case

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - by Roanne John­son roanne. john­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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.

Dim­itrios Tsilavis

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