Cyclist feared he would die in a 'pool of blood' on highway

A CYCLIST thought he was going to die as he "lay in a pool of blood" after being struck by a passing vehicle on the Bruxner Highway, Lismore District Court heard last week.

Casino man Richard David Dunwell, 34, appeared before the Lismore District Court on Friday for sentencing.

Dunwell, who remains in custody, had pleaded guilty in December to two charges of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm over the incident which took place on the Bruxner Highway at Drake on May 19, 2018.

Two cyclists were struck by Dunwell's vehicle on the highway and are continuing to recover from serious injuries.

The court heard Dunwell had recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.243 at the time of the incident.

Mark Ellard, one of the two cyclists who was struck, told the court about how he continues to recover from a broken femur and job stress as a result of the collision. 

Mr Ellard told the court that moments after the collision all he could think about how he didn't want to die a "pool of blood" on the side of the road and how later in the ambulance he thought he was "passing onto the other side".

"Bike riding was a big part of my life, I'm riding again but it's limited," he said.

"I'm a nervous rider now which can be dangerous to other riders around me."

During his submissions, Crown Prosecutor Brendan Campbell indicated Dunwell had deliberately driven his vehicle towards the cyclists to intimidate them with "erratic" driving behaviour.

"This was not just merely drunken swerving, this was behaviour directed at the cyclist which puts it in the category of aggressive driving," Mr Campbell said.

The court saw during video evidence from the collision Dunwell's vehicle "swerving" towards multiple cyclists on the road that day before ultimately hitting the two injured and then continuing to drive on before turning around and returning to the scene.

Mr Campbell told the court that Dunwell had "approached at the rear of each cyclist" before he manoeuvred his vehicle "to the left and then back to the right" while "narrowly" missing the other cyclists before colliding "heavily" with the two cyclists.

But Dunwell's barrister Jason Watts told the court his client had not agreed with the statement he had been driving with the intent to intimidate and was simply driving dangerously while under the influence of alcohol.

"The facts are signed by the offender, he's agreed to those facts and he's willing to be sentenced on those facts," Mr Watts said.

"He accepts that he is the driver, he has caused his vehicle to drive towards the cyclists and then it's far too late and the collision has occurred."

Judge Jonathon Priestly said he had questioned whether Dunwell had shown any intent of intimidation towards the cyclists after he viewed video evidence from the collision.

"If someone was playing life and death games with cyclists you wouldn't expect them to do a U-turn," Mr Priestly said.

"But the amount of alcohol is an unignorable factor in the whole thing."

Dunwell is also facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, possessing a prohibited drug and common assault on the same day as the collision.

Mr Priestly has adjourned his judgment on the matter to August 8, and Dunwell remains in custody.

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