Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Motoring Cycling and Walking Court punishments for hit-runs fail to deter other drivers, says Bernie Rankin Herald Sun 25.10.15 Victoria, Australia


Insp Rankin said hit-runs were highly challenging investigations, often starting with just a body, some debris and no witnesses.
Some of those on his unit’s books stretched back to the 1970s.
“They’re actually one of the most difficult criminal investigations there is. They are a fairly large proportion of the MCIU’s work,” he said.

Court punishments for hit-runs fail to deter other drivers, says Bernie Rankin

October 25, 2015 11:00pm

Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS
THE state’s top accident investigator says penalties imposed on hit-run drivers are failing to match the gravity of the crime.
Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin, head of the major collision investigation unit, said penalties were no deterrent against fleeing an accident.
Insp Rankin said the penalties for leaving a crash scene and failing to render assistance increased to 10 years in jail about a decade ago.
But he said those imposed in practice rarely approached the maximum.
“It’s fair to say the penalties tend to be more in months than years,” he said.
“They should be a deterrent for someone considering leaving the scene of a crash. They should not see that as an ­attractive option.”
Insp Rankin said there were four main reasons people left smash scenes before authorities arrived.
“You were breaking the law, you were drunk, you were on drugs or you were disqualified.” he said.
“It’s just a selfish act to reduce the chances of going to court.”
In May this year, Croydon man Peter Chilcott was handed a four-month jail term over the hit-run death of respected athletics coach Thomas Kelly.
Mr Chilcott told his wife he drank about six stubbies at a party before hitting Mr Kelly at Mt Evelyn but, fearing he’d lose his licence, drove off and later lied to investigators.
In July last year, another driver walked free from court after fleeing a smash in which he struck and killed a pedestrian in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
In that case, the driver headed straight home before hiding his damaged four-wheel-drive at a mate’s garage.
Insp Rankin said hit-runs were highly challenging investigations, often starting with just a body, some debris and no witnesses.
Some of those on his unit’s books stretched back to the 1970s.
“They’re actually one of the most difficult criminal investigations there is. They are a fairly large proportion of the MCIU’s work,” he said.


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