ACT News


Bride-to-be's spine fractured in car crash

A woman injured in a head-on collision with a car driven by a man whose son died in the crash had returned to Australia only three days earlier to prepare for her wedding.

The woman, then 27, suffered multiple fractures to her spine, ribs and arm when Anthony Andrew Paton's Commodore spun out of control and hit an oncoming Toyota Yaris on Gundaroo Drive about 1pm in July 2009.

The crash killed the defendant's son, Andrew John Paton, 29, of Ngunnawal, who was in the front passenger seat of the Commodore.

A jury last month found Paton guilty of culpable driving causing death and culpable driving causing grievous bodily harm.

Paton, his son and two other men had started drinking in the morning on the day of the smash.

Paton was driving erratically - speeding and trying to slide the car around corners - and the two rear passengers begged him to slow down moments before he lost control of the vehicle and collided with the Yaris.


The car was unregistered, he had an expired driver's licence and returned an alcohol reading of .281 at the time of the accident.

The defendant sat with his arms crossed as the woman's friend - the victim had returned to London - read an impact statement at an ACT Supreme Court sentencing hearing on Friday.

The statement said the victim had come to Canberra to prepare for her wedding to her university sweetheart and was driving with her maid of honour when the crash occurred.

She said time seemed to stand still as she watched the Commodore lose control and plough into their vehicle.

''It was a lifetime compressed into milliseconds,'' the court heard.

She knew the crash would claim a life and was relieved to hear the screams of her best friend of 20 years because it confirmed they survived.

But she could not move, had lost sensation from her chest down, and feared she was paralysed before being overcome by ''staggering all-consuming'' pain. The victim said she spent a month in hospital in ''pure agony'', immobilised to prevent further injury as her spine healed.

She watched her scheduled wedding day come and go and was forced wear a back brace for a further five months after her discharge.

The court heard she became socially isolated on her return to London and could not continue working as a lawyer because of continued physical discomfort. She said the crash was a cruel form of identity theft, which had robbed her of her health, wellbeing and then her career.

The woman said pain had become part of her everyday life, which could only be managed but never defeated.

The court will be presented with evidence of Paton's mental state when the hearing continues in October.