Sydney, February 18: A Punjabi taxi driver was sitting in a cab rank in Castle Hill in Sydney, hoping to get a good fare at the end of his shift when someone started tapping on his window. He felt the person was overly drunk; he was not sure what to do.
But what happened in the next 90 seconds, there was no way he could have ever “contemplated the devastating consequences”, a court was told.
The driver was a an Indian Australian, Amarjot Singh Randhawa and it was in May 2012 when the incident happened. He was parked, with his doors locked.
Andrew Heffernan, 23, who had been drinking with friends at the Hillside Hotel. He walked to Old Castle Hill Road and approached Randhawa’s taxi just before 1am as he wanted a lift.
Looking at the state Andrew Haffernan was in, Randhawa did not want to drive him.
Although there was some interaction between the pair but Randhawa took off “while Mr Heffernan was hanging onto the passenger side window of his taxi”, the court heard.
Randhawa drove 22 metres in four seconds.In that short distance Mr Heffernan sustained injuries that killed him.
Today, Randhawa was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment to be served by way of an intensive corrections order in the community. He was also ordered to do community service.
Judge Gregory Farmer said Randhawa’s decision to drive off was a “momentary misjudgement”.
“The act of continuing to drive the taxi away from the kerb while Mr Heffernan was hanging from the taxi … was not a reasonable response to the danger,” Judge Farmer told the NSW District Court.
“Although he decided to drive off he could not have contemplated the consequences of that decision,” he said.
Mr Heffernan’s parents, Kym and Lisa Heffernan, said they were offended by the judge’s sentencing remarks.
“It’s very upsetting, we were expecting it … it’s not right, it’s not justice,” Mrs Heffernan said as her lips quivered outside court.
“What this judge today has done is sent a message that it’s OK for professional taxi drivers to take off, not take care of their passengers. It’s OK to refuse fares,” Kym Heffernan said.
In October last year, a jury had found the 42-year-old Randhawa guilty of driving dangerously occasioning death but not guilty of failing to stop.