A carjacking victim has blamed himself for becoming the victim of an American baseballer on a “bad” LSD trip, a court has heard.
Timothy William Cusick, 28, pleaded guilty to the theft of Austen Chen’s car and driving dangerously from the scene, in Adelaide’s CBD in March this year.
In a statement read to South Australia’s District Court, Mr Chen said the incident had “completely changed his life” and left him with “horrific feelings” of emptiness and worthlessness.
“I was shocked and still shocked … I thought it would only happen in Hollywood action movies,” he said.
The court heard Mr Chen was thrown from the car by Cusick, who sped off at high speed and on the wrong side of the road towards the airport, while experiencing hallucinations and a mistaken belief he was being chased.
Mr Chen said the attack coincided with his wife’s battle with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
“Why are all the bad things happening to us?” he asked.
“I feel so sad at what I’ve become now.”
Mr Chen said he blamed himself for being at the “wrong place at the wrong time” and on his commute to work as a medical researcher often relived the trauma of the event.
Cusick’s case is now at the sentencing submission stage and his lawyer Marie Shaw QC told the court that her client was out drinking with a young woman in Adelaide when he took LSD — which he had done twice before in the United States.
She said the “bad trip” from the LSD was the primary cause of the offending and that Cusick’s good character references were also reason to suspend any prison sentence he might be given.
“It’s a heavy lesson to learn one should not have taken any drugs,” she said.
But the prosecution said the event was “inherently serious” and punishment was needed to set a severe deterrent.
It said the moral culpability of the offending was not lessened by Cusick’s voluntary decision to take the LSD.
The prosecution argued a risk was clearly foreseeable and it was a matter of common sense.
Cusick was joined by his American parents and his Adelaide homestay guardian in the court.
He faces a maximum prison term of more than 15 years when sentenced next week.
During the submissions hearing, Cusick stood up and read a letter of apology to Mr Chen and the people of South Australia for his behaviour.
“The drugs in my system must have affected my behaviour in ways I could not anticipate,” he said.
“But that’s no excuse.
“It makes me sick to know it was me that put you through it … I hope you can forgive me for my actions.”
Cusick also apologised to the baseball community.
He had played 15 games for the Henley and Grange Baseball Club in an unpaid role on a tourist visa.