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Woman falls asleep and drives into oncoming car

CRASH: Emergency services on the scene of the head-on crash at the Bundaberg-Gin Gin Rd involving Melody Chi-Kwun Cheung.
CRASH: Emergency services on the scene of the head-on crash at the Bundaberg-Gin Gin Rd involving Melody Chi-Kwun Cheung. Craig Warhurst

A 23-YEAR-OLD woman is lucky she didn't kill anybody when she fell asleep behind the wheel of her car.

That was the stern warning Judge Brendan Butler offered Melody Chi-Kwun Cheung in the Bundaberg District Court.

Cheung was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said on June 9, 2016, Cheung, then 21, was driving from Gin Gin to Bundaberg along Bundaberg-Gin Gin Rd between 2pm and 3pm when she fell asleep briefly and veered into the opposing lane directly into a car driven by Raymond Fredrick Stevens in a head-on smash.

Mr Stevens' wife was in the passenger seat.

The court heard how Mr Stevens, 75, suffered serious injuries, which have left him with a disability.

Defence barrister Eoin Mac Giolla Ri said leading up to the crash, Cheung, an occupational therapist, had realised she was feeling tired.

Cheung stopped off at a Gin Gin coffee shop en route to Bundaberg.

"She acknowledges it was dangerous for her to keep driving," Mr Mac Giolla Ri said.

Mr Mac Giolla Ri said Cheung was not "burning the midnight oil" and her lifestyle was not depriving her of sleep.

 

CRASH: Emergency services are on the scene of a head-on crash on the Bundaerg-Gin Gin Rd.
CRASH: Emergency services are on the scene of a head-on crash on the Bundaerg-Gin Gin Rd. Craig Warhurst

"She's going from place to place doing good," he said.

Cheung wrote a letter to the victim, which the prosecutor had passed onto the victim's daughter, who was sitting in the courtroom.

Mr Cook submitted three victim impact statements as evidence, which Cheung elected not to read to stay emotionally stable during court proceedings.

Judge Butler said the fact Cheung had swerved into the wrong lane twice due to sleepiness before the crash and yet kept driving needed to be addressed as the consequences could have been much worse.

"You're fortunate you're not before this court having killed a person," he said.

Judge Butler said her actions had changed Mr and Mrs Stevens' lives forever.

"That's going to be with him for the rest of his life and makes his life much more difficult physically," Judge Butler said.

"I urge you to read the victim impact statements."

Cheung was sentenced to 18 months prison, wholly suspended for two years and cannot hold a licence for two years.

Topics:  buncourt court crime driving editors picks



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