Driver ‘destroyed my life': pensioner

Name : Daniella Miletic
May 9, 2006
A DRUG-AFFECTED driver who was speeding when he smashed into a car, leaving a 71-year-old woman wheelchair-bound, has been jailed for two years.

Michael Joseph Taranto, 27, was travelling at more than 116 km/h in a 70 km/h zone and had taken cannabis before smashing his Commodore into a car at the intersection of the Hume Highway and Major Road, Fawkner, in June 2004.

The County Court heard that Arsinoe Nikolakopoulos, now 73, was left with brain damage and amnesia as a result of the crash. She is wheelchair-bound and incapable of dressing or feeding herself. The court was told that before the crash she had an active life, including visiting and receiving visits from her children and grandchildren.

In a victim impact statement tendered to the court, Mrs Nikolakopoulos said she was in constant pain.

“I don’t remember anything of my life,” she said. “I have forgotten my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters.

“I feel like I am a burden to myself and my family. He destroyed my life. He has made me into a piece of rubbish. He has taken my life away from me.”

Taranto, formerly of Fawkner, had pleaded guilty to negligently causing serious injury, using an unroadworthy vehicle and unlicensed driving.

Judge Tom Wodak sentenced him to two years’ jail with a minimum of one year and disqualified him from driving for two years.

Judge Wodak said he took into account Taranto’s pattern of undisciplined driving, with convictions for speeding and a “road rage” incident.

“It was a matter of time before your propensity for driving too fast would have heartbreaking consequences,” he said. “For Mrs Nikolakopoulos, her car was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Had you driven even up to the speed limit applying at the scene of the collision, it is most probable that you would have been able to stop well before any collision occurred,” he said.

He accepted Taranto was remorseful and had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the accident.



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