The deaths of Eliza Wannan and Will Dalton-Brown, who were run over on a private property in 2010, have sparked debate over possible changes to the laws in NSW.
During last month’s inquest into their deaths, Detective Senior Constable Grant Gannon, who led the investigation, was questioned by the Wannan family’s solicitor Michael Schwarb about why he did not lay charges against the driver of the vehicle, Rhys Colefax.
Mr Schwarb pointed out inconsistencies in the NSW legislation, compared to Victoria and Queensland where in a similar situation the driver would be charged.
Yesterday Mr Schwarb said the findings handed down by Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund were “cold comfort” for the families.
However, he hoped it would prompt change to bring NSW in line with other states.
“We have to ask ourselves, by today’s community standards, is this [the NSW legislation] acceptable in this day and age?” Mr Schwarb said.
“Although this is an unusual case, it is time for a rethink as to whether this type of driving behaviour should be outside the law.” Mr Colefax, who was aged 17 at the time of the accident, has not been charged with any driving offence as a result of the incident.
The first stage of the inquest in Orange was abruptly adjourned in May 2011 after Ms Freund referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), saying there were reasonable grounds for a conviction if Colefax was charged.
However, the DPP did not lay charges against Mr Colefax and a date was set for the inquest to resume.
Yesterday spokesmen for the NRMA, NSW Centre for Road Safety, and Roads Minister Duncan Gay said they were investigating the case and the implications for any changes to legislation.