Jail for Casino man who drunkenly crashed into cyclists
A CASINO man who struck two cyclists on the Bruxner Highway while driving heavily intoxicated has been sentenced to more than four years in prison.
Richard David Dunwell, 35, kept glancing towards his partner seated in the public gallery as his sentence was handed down in Lismore District Court on Tuesday.
Dunwell had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in December to two counts of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm over the incident in which he struck two cyclists on the Bruxner Highway at Drake on May 19, 2018.
The two cyclists, who were thrown from their bikes after being struck by the vehicle, required significant surgery after the incident, which left one cyclist with a broken femur and the other with a compound leg fracture.
During Dunwell's sentencing hearing in July, one cyclist, Mark Ellard, recalled thinking he was going to die as he "lay in a pool of blood".
After Dunwell left the scene six kilometres east of Drake, he returned to the scene within two minutes of striking the two cyclists with his vehicle.
It was then that he had headbutted a person who had stopped to assist the injured cyclists.
Dunwell had tested positive for driving under the influence of alcohol, recording a blood alcohol concentration reading of 0.243.
Police investigators also searched Dunwell's vehicle and found a total of 13.84 grams of cannabis, to which Dunwell admitted was for his own personal use.
During sentencing, the prosecution had argued Dunwell deliberately drove towards the cyclists with intent to cause harm.
But Judge Jonathon Priestley said he believed the video evidence did not show Dunwell deliberately struck the cyclists but instead was driving as one would expect to the level of ability a person under the influence of excessive alcohol consumption would drive.
However, Mr Priestley did agree that Dunwell put the lives of the other cyclists riding that day, and "other road users", at risk before striking the two injured.
"In order to hit the two cyclists, the offender needed to pass a support vehicle and other cyclists," Mr Priestley said.
"On this occasion the accused has turned back to the right too late and collided with the cyclists."
Mr Priestley said Dunwell's previous extensive drink driving history and alcohol abuse meant he needed to seek supervised rehabilitation as part of his sentencing.
He sentenced Dunwell to four years and six months in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and issued a disqualification of Dunwell's driver's license for three years.
Dunwell will be eligible for parole on September 29, 2021.