November 26, 2019 16:44:23
A Victorian man who smashed his car into a power pole after drinking up to 40 cans of alcohol, killing his young son, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
- Thomas Richard Baksh was found to have a blood alcohol reading of 0.152
- The learner driver, who was in an unregistered car, was taking three of his children to a fast food restaurant
- County Court Judge Gavan Meredith said Baksh was incapable of controlling the car and called his conduct “grossly negligent”
Thomas Richard Baksh, from Kialla, was drinking at a children’s birthday party before he got behind the wheel with three children in his car in Shepparton last year.
His 12-year-old son Daniel Baksh was sitting in the front passenger seat when Baksh oversteered and drove into a power pole on Wanganui Road.
Baksh had a blood alcohol reading of 0.152 and had traces of cannabis in his system.
He will serve a minimum term of five years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
Baksh consumed the dozens of cans of bourbon before driving with his two sons and teenage stepdaughter in an unregistered car for a trip to McDonalds.
CCTV footage seen by the court showed Baksh mounting the curb at the restaurant and drinking from a can as he waited for his stepdaughter and younger son to buy food.
Witnesses also saw Baksh clip a curb as he drove from the carpark towards Wanganui Road.
As he drove along Wanganui Road, he oversteered, causing the car to spin in a clockwise direction, before smashing the passenger side of the car into a wooden power pole.
The 12-year-old was pinned between the dash and the pole and died at the scene.
Baksh, a learner driver, later told police he could not remember the crash but had flashes of trying to rip the door open to get Daniel out.
“All I can remember is being a big shot saying ‘yeah, I’ll go get some Maccas’ and I woke up in the hospital,” he said.
“But I got drunk, I f***ed up and killed my son.”
The two other children, aged 10 and 14, were not wearing seatbelts and sustained minor injuries.
‘Catastrophic impact’ of offending
Judge Gavan Meredith said Baksh had been “grossly negligent” and was so drunk he was “incapable” of controlling the car.
“Your culpability is marked by your high blood alcohol level of approximately three times the legal limit,” he said.
“There has been a catastrophic impact of your offending and the suffering you have caused will not go away.
“Grief is profound and ongoing.”
In a victim impact statement read out in an earlier hearing, Emma Pridmore, the dead boy’s mother, said she would “never get over the death”.
She and the couple’s other son, 10-year-old Matthew, had not spoken to Baksh since the crash.
“[Daniel] was a family member who was valued and Thomas Baksh’s actions took all of that away,” she said.
“Matthew witnessed the trauma of the crime, and he’ll never forget Baksh losing control and the image of his brother lying dead on the vehicle.
“It’s impossible to describe losing our son at the hands of someone he should’ve been able to trust.”
‘Genuine remorse’ shown
Since entering an alcohol rehabilitation program, Baksh had stopped drinking and demonstrated “exemplary behaviour”, he said.
“I’m satisfied you have demonstrated your genuine remorse for offending and accept your insight into alcoholism and drug abuse and their link to this offending,” Judge Meredith said.
“You want to reform yourself and will be burdened and haunted by causing the death of your son for the rest of your life.”
Baksh waved to his family in court as his mother yelled and swore at journalists.
In his plea to the judge and Indigenous elders at the Koori Court in an earlier hearing, Baksh said his guilt caused him to have breakdowns and constant anxiety.
He also apologised to Ms Pridmore for “taking our son away”.
“I know I will be living with grief for the rest of my life, and [it] will never go away,” he said.
“I haven’t seen Matthew since the accident but I want to be a clean, present and sober father to him, I want to be a good role model.”
November 26, 2019 14:54:19