Widow demands coronial inquest into cyclist husband's 'road rage' death

DEVASTATED: Louise Brand is seeking a coronial inquest into the death of her 71-year-old husband David in June last year. Picture: Rachel Mounsey
DEVASTATED: Louise Brand is seeking a coronial inquest into the death of her 71-year-old husband David in June last year. Picture: Rachel Mounsey

The widow of a cyclist killed last year is pushing for cultural change and a coronial inquest into her husband's death.

Merimbula's Louise Brand says she wants "road rage" incidents to be treated in the same vein by the courts as the now infamous "coward punch" law.

Ms Brand's 71-year-old husband David died in Canberra Hospital eight days after suffering severe injuries when he collided with a driver who had walked onto Mount Darragh Rd after leaving his vehicle to confront the avid cyclist.

The man was charged with grievous bodily harm by unlawful act, pleaded guilty and received a 12-month non-custodial sentence.

During sentencing Local Court Magistrate Doug Dick described the act as "road rage", and told the court both men had "unfortunately" moved in the same direction in an attempt to avoid a collision. 

Ms Brand said she had hoped for a custodial sentence and said she felt the sentence was not in line with community expectations.

"I want some personal justice for David, and how I go about that I'm not sure," Ms Brand said. "He is dead and nobody has been held accountable.

"The magistrate called it a 'road rage' incident, and as far as I'm concerned it's manslaughter."

I want to debate the version of events, because I've never been asked for my version and I don't accept what was said in court.

Louise Brand

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, the act of road rage is described as a "notoriously difficult" concept to deal with within the justice system.

The Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee of the Parliament of Victoria has suggested the "colloquial expression" is "so imprecise and subject to differing interpretations that its use should be avoided entirely".

The committee recommended the term be separated into road violence, road hostility, and selfish driving.

The committee also acknowledged the "difficulty in determining precisely whether the parties involved in incidents are offenders or victims".

Mr Brand's autopsy revealed his facial injuries could have been the result of "one or more blows to the face, although it is also possible such bruising could be the result of the collision".

"I want to debate the version of events, because I've never been asked for my version and I don't accept what was said in court," she said.

I'm not raging or ranting, I just want the facts re-examined. 

"I think a coronial inquest is the only way I can move forward for justice for David."

Ms Brand said there was a need for a local crash scene investigation team and the minimum passing distance legislation should be better enforced in order to protect cyclists.

"It will take years to change but we have to start somewhere," she said.