Gemma Vogel appeared before Murgon Magistrates Court for driving without due care and attention causing death. Photo/Facebook.
Gemma Vogel appeared before Murgon Magistrates Court for driving without due care and attention causing death. Photo/Facebook.

Wondai teen escapes jail after 'lapse' caused man’s death

A lapse of judgment from a young driver ended in tragedy when a man fell from the side of a moving car, hitting his head on the road at Wondai.

Stephen Bruce Kemp, 61, was airlifted to a Brisbane hospital on May 2, 2020, however he died from his injuries days later on May 4.

Appearing before Murgon Magistrates Court on Tuesday, the driver of the vehicle, 19-year-old Gemma Vogel, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention causing death.

The court heard on May 2 last year, Vogel, and a passenger were driving down Haly Street in Wondai when she spotted Mr Kemp walking along the footpath, police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens told the court.

The court heard Vogel offered Mr Kemp a lift to a mate's house, she pulled to the side of the road to enable him to get into the car.

Magistrate Andrew Sinclair said Vogel initially believed Mr Kemp was in the back seat when he was in fact standing on the side rail of the vehicle.

The charge of driving without due care and attention relates to her failure to stop upon realising the deceased was not securely seated in the back of the car.

"The facts set out by the prosecution indicate the defendant offered her friend a lift," Magistrate Sinclair said.

"She thought he'd got into the car, but instead he chose to ride on the outside of the vehicle, standing on the stepping rail.

"They only travelled about 80 metres or so. As she approached where they were going, she slowed down.

"As she came to a stop, he lost his grip and fell off."

Sergeant Stevens told the South Burnett Times the defendant slammed on the brakes to attend to Mr Kemp, who was bleeding profusely from his head and nose, and she yelled for the witness to call an ambulance immediately.

Paramedics arrived and Kemp was flown to a Brisbane hospital, however he died from his injuries.

The defendant was represented by Adrian Hawkes from Hawkes Lawyers.

Referring to a letter his client addressed to the court, Mr Hawkes said Vogel was extremely remorseful for what happened that day and is devastated by the loss of her friend.

"If she could go back in time she would," he said.

"Obviously she's learned a very heavy lesson in life in respect of this event."

Quoting a comparable case, which came before a Queensland court in 1995, Magistrate Sinclair said "the consequences of criminal acts bear little relationship to the innate reprehensibility of the actions of the defendant".

"A violent malicious attack may produce surprisingly little injury, while a relatively minor reactive assault may produce grave injury.

"In driving cases, extremely reprehensible driving may cause little damage, while less serious driving may result in serious injury or death to others."

Taking into account her extreme youth and excellent character references, Magistrate Sinclair sentenced Vogel to three months imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of 12 months.

She was suspended from holding or obtaining a license for a period of nine months.

The conviction was recorded.

South Burnett

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