A 56-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in jail for dangerous driving occasioning death in the Elijah Doughty trial, after he was found not guilty of the more serious charge of manslaughter.
The 14-year-old boy was fatally run over in the West Australian city of Kalgoorlie in August last year, leading to riots and violent scenes as people gathered to protest over his death.
A Supreme Court jury deliberated for six hours before finding the man — whose identity is suppressed — guilty of the lesser charge of dangerous driving occasioning death.
In his sentencing submissions, the man’s defence lawyer Seamus Rafferty told the court there were no words that could adequately reflect his client’s remorse.
“First for the fact that his driving ultimately led to the death of a 14-year-old boy, and for the grief and sorrow that is caused for his immediate family and the wider community,” he said.
“This is in a continual loop in his head … it continually plays.”
Members of the packed public gallery yelled abuse at him and the jury before the court was adjourned.
Verdict met with grief and anger
And the verdict was greeted with grief and angry scenes outside the courthouse in Kalgoorlie, where people had watched proceedings via a special video link.
About 100 people marched down the city’s main street, Hannan Street, with some carrying Indigenous flags and chanting: “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”
The group was tightly flanked by riot police but despite being vocal, there was not the same level of aggression or violence as demonstrated in last year’s riot on the same street.
Local elder Leon Thomas addressed the crowd, calling for calm at the request of Elijah’s family.
During the trial, the man admitted he was driving dangerously when he chased Elijah down a gravel track, but denied he was criminally negligent.
He said he had gone to the area — known as Gribble Creek — to look for two motorbikes stolen from his home the day before.
The man maintained police had told him to go there because the area was a known dumping ground, and when he arrived he spotted the teenager on one of the bikes and made a “split-second” decision to chase him.
The chase — over about 100 metres — lasted about 25 seconds, with the man’s utility reaching an estimated speed of 67 kilometres per hour when he ran over Elijah, who rolled or tumbled under the two-tonne utility.