A DRIVER who ran two red lights and caused a crash that left his friend with profound life-changing injuries will now face time in prison after his sentence was successfully appealed.
Jessie Norris had been sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court in June to a 30-month community corrections order for dangerous driving causing serious injury and driving while unlicensed.
But the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully appealed the sentence at the Bendigo County Court on Wednesday.
After hearing submissions, Judge David Brookes set aside the sentence from Magistrate Megan Aumair and re-sentenced Norris to three months in prison with a 12-month community corrections order.
Norris, who has never held a licence, has also been banned from driving for three years.
Judge Brookes told the court in his sentencing remarks that Norris' moral culpability was at the higher end of the spectrum.
"The circumstances cannot be described as momentary inattention," he said. "You put people unnecessarily at risk."
Shortly after 8pm on July 29, 2018, the unlicensed 23-year-old ran two red lights at Charing Cross and turned into the path of a semi-trailer travelling along Pall Mall.
The truck - which had a green light - smashed into the front passenger side of Norris' vehicle, where his then-21-year-old friend was sitting.
The truck driver told police he applied the brakes, but the truck still dragged the car about 20 metres.
He and his passengers - including his two children - escaped the crash uninjured.
Norris and his passenger were freed from the wreckage by emergency services.
The passenger was flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with injuries that included a traumatic brain injury, spinal fracture, fractured clavicle, fractured ribs and scalp lacerations.
Norris sustained a broken collarbone.
The court heard the victim has permanent cognitive impairment as a result of the crash and that they now need a carer to complete simple tasks.
In submissions made to court, Crown prosecutor David Cordy said Norris should have received a stronger combination sentence.
Read more court: Bendigo man who flew into rage at former employer avoids prison
"This is a case that calls for a higher penalty than the Magistrate sentenced," he said.
"While I do concede that it was momentary inattention that caused him to go through the first red light, from that point on there was clear and unambiguous red lights.
"He would have had a clear view of Pall Mall. The truck was like a block of flats - he would have seen it coming.
"He simply did not pay attention to what he was doing. It ought to be condemned by the court."
But Norris' Defence counsel Lisa Papadinas made the submission there was a lack of aggravating features in the case.
"We accept that he was unlicensed at the time," she said. "But there were no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, he wasn't using his phone, he was not driving erratically, and there was no evidence that he was sleep deprived.
"In my submission, it was at the lower end of moral culpability."
Ms Papadinas told the court momentary inattention caused the crash and that Norris had been going at the relatively low speed of 30 km/h when he collided with the semi-trailer.
She also said the Charing Cross intersection was complicated for drivers.
"If you haven't been through the intersection before, it would have been confusing," she said.
But Mr Cordy argued that the intersection was clearly marked and Norris had "no business" of driving through the intersection when he did.
"It is not a complicated intersection," Mr Cordy said. "If the Magistrate and my learned friend believe it is complicated, then they should not be on the road."
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Brookes told the court Norris failed to take account of two red lights and failed to look to see if there was any oncoming traffic when he crossed through the intersection.
"It needs to be said that you took an unnecessary risk," he said. "The community of Bendigo would consider it a high level of culpability."
Judge Brookes sentenced Norris to three months in prison and a 12-month community corrections order.
The corrections order will include 100 hours of unpaid community work and rehabilitation programs for alcohol use and mental health issues.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.