A retired South Australian District Court judge and state coroner will be sentenced later this month for causing a crash that resulted in a delivery driver losing both of his legs below the knees.
- Wayne Chivell was a magistrate, coroner and judge
- I used the accelerator instead of the brake and hit an OzHarvest driver
- The man lost his legs below the knees as a result of the crash
Wayne Cromwell Chivell, 71, pleaded guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to one aggravated count of careless driving.
A prosecutor told Magistrate John Wells that Chivell stopped at a red light on Anzac Highway at Plympton in December 2021, to inform the driver of an OzHarvest delivery truck that his back door was swinging open.
She said he got back in his car and accelerated quickly, striking and trapping the 66-year-old driver who had gone around the back to close the door.
“As a result of the impact, the delivery truck was pushed 5 meters forward,” she said.
The court heard the victim suffered “extensive injuries” and had to have both legs amputated below the knees.
In his victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutors, the driver said the crash caused him to lose a job he enjoyed.
“I missed my only grandchild’s first birthday, Christmas and all the other social events around that time of year,” he said.
“Everyday life has changed dramatically.”
David Edwardson QC, for Chivell, told the court it was a case of “pedal error”.
He said his client thought he had his foot on the brake, but instead accelerated before mistakenly pushing harder on the accelerator to try and stop his car.
“We’re talking about a split-second event,” he said.
He said from the moment Chivell got back in his car to the impact was 1.2 seconds.
Through his lawyer, Chivell issued a public apology and expressed his remorse to his victim’s family.
Mr Edwardson said his client has an “exemplary character” and was described by Supreme Court justice Trish Kelly as “loyal, truthful and kind” in her reference to the court.
The court heard Justice Kelly believed the collision would “weigh heavily on him for the rest of his life.”
The court heard District Court judge Paul Slattery also provided a character reference which stated Chivell would be “personally devastated by the accident”.
Magistrate John Wells told Chivell he would not impose a jail sentence, suspended or otherwise, but would ban him from driving for longer than the mandatory minimum of six months.
Long legal career in South Australia
Chivell started his legal career in 1972, before becoming a magistrate in Adelaide and Port Augusta between 1980 and 1987.
He was appointed the state coroner in 1993 before becoming a District Court judge in 2005.
I have retired in 2020 at the mandatory age of 70.
In 2011, during the sentencing of a driver who had hit and killed a boy, Chivell pointed out that “even momentary lapses in concentration can have tragic consequences.”
“We need to make people stop and think twice before they jump behind that wheel,” he said.
In 2012, he spared a driver jail in a case he said showed the terrible consequences that could follow from inattentive driving.
As the coroner, he said a complacent attitude to safety led to the death of a yachtsman off Adelaide in 2002.