The widow of a cyclist killed in a “road rage” incident in June last year is hoping the 12-month non-custodial sentence handed to the man who caused her husband’s death will help change the mindset of Australian drivers towards cyclists.
Seventy-one-year-old David Brand died in Canberra Hospital eight days after suffering severe injuries caused in a collision with Cumming, who had walked on to Mount Darragh Rd after leaving his vehicle to confront the keen cyclist.
“I don’t want David’s death to be in vain. I hope the community attitude towards cyclists will change,” Louise Brand said outside court.
A full court house watched on as Magistrate Doug Dick handed down a 12-month intensive corrections order and a $5000 fine to 37-year-old Lochiel man Nathan John Cumming on Tuesday, February 7. Cumming had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm by unlawful act.
Ms Brand looked Cumming in the eye as she read her victim impact statement to the court, describing the despair the “devastating confrontation”, which led to the former farmer and school teacher’s death, had caused his family.
“My husband is dead and that’s just going to be my life now,” she said.
“I began to understand for the first time why people give up on life.”
She also shared her “complete disillusionment” at a legal system which she said had initially only charged Cumming with driving offences.
“I don’t understand why the charge against you isn’t manslaughter,” she told Cumming. Ms Brand said her husband had been “vilified” by rumours he had thrown the “first punch”.
Cumming’s lawyer Mark Hagan told the court his client had shown no “hatred towards cyclists”, felt a “sense of guilt and shame” for what he had done, and requested Cumming serve his sentence in the community. Police prosecutor Sergeant Liza Brown said the offence was “purely preventable” and Cumming should be “adequately punished”.
During sentencing Magistrate Dick told the court the pair had both moved to avoid a collision and had “unfortunately” moved in the same direction.
“There was never any intention for you to commit actual bodily harm,” he told Cumming. Magistrate Dick took into account Cumming’s prior good character and low risk of reoffending.
Outside court Ms Brand said she had hoped for a custodial sentence, and that she will dedicate her life to advocating for the rights of cyclists.